Eric Fair, a former US contract interrogator in Iraq during the height of the war there, has now called for the government to totally open the book on the methods that were practiced there.
In April 2004 I was stationed at a detention facility in Fallujah. Inside the detention facility was an office. Inside the office was a small chair made of plywood and two-by-fours. The chair was two feet tall. The rear legs were taller than the front legs. The seat and chair back leaned forward. Plastic zip ties were used to force a detainee into a crouched position from which he could not recover. It caused muscle failure of the quads, hamstrings and calves. It was torture.
The detainees in Fallujah were the hardest set of men I’ve ever come upon. Many killed with a sickening enthusiasm. They often butchered what remained of their victims. It is easy to argue that they deserved far worse than what we delivered.
Still, those tactics stained my soul in an irrevocable way, maybe justifiably so. But as members of our government and its agencies continue to defend our use of torture, and as the American people continue to ignore their obligation to uncover this sordid chapter, the stain isn’t mine alone.
Jose Rodriguez Jr., the former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, insists that those who suggest we question more gently have never felt the burden of protecting innocent lives. I’ve felt that burden. And when the time came, I did not question gently.
I’m dealing with my own burdens now. My marriage is struggling. My effectiveness as a parent is deteriorating. My son is suffering. I am no longer the person I once was. I try to repent. I work to confess. I hope for atonement.
While our standing has improved from the days when we were at the height of the Iraq debacle, countries are sick and tired of the Neocon doctrine of perpetual warfare being spread throughout the globe, which in part explains the resurgence of Russia as a world power. And this is one of the main reasons why. Until we come to terms with what we did in Iraq and what we are continuing to do now, we are going to repeat the same mistakes sooner or later.
When we first decided to commit torture, we placed ourselves above international law, which prohibits the use of torture. We placed ourselves above our own Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. And we violated our own military field manuals, which also prohibit the use of torture.
And what's more, we permanently scarred the minds of a whole generation of men and women who enlisted with the idealistic notion that they were on the front lines of the war on terror and that they were there to make the world a better place for our children. Now, people are dropping out of the political process as evidenced by the fact that 138 million voted in the 2008 election, but only 121 million people voted in the 2012 election. This is in nobody's interest to see that many people give up on the political process because they do not see it as relevant to their lives anymore.
While the current President has been good on civil rights and has done a good job of stopping the bleeding from the economic freefall of 2008, more must be done. We have to have a leadership who can rally the country to think of something beyond themselves again like Kennedy and Roosevelt did when they were in power. In order to do that, we can't have it both ways and try and fund both a massive military industrial complex and a social welfare state. We have to drastically scale back the military industrial complex, corporate welfare state, and police state so that we can devote resources to building our country again and grow our economy to the level of prosperity that we had under Clinton.