…and category errors:
“But two of civilization’s institutions, though not physically present, are constantly alluded to in the act of torture, and so hover behind and arch over the physical reality of the sealed room. Like the domestic objects, these institutions are unmade by being made weapons. The first is, of course, the trial. In its basic outlines, torture is the inversion of the trial, a reversal of cause and effect. While the one studies evidence that may lead to punishment, the other uses punishment to generate the evidence.”
— Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain
“The second institution ubiquitously present by inversion is medicine…the institution of medicine like that of justice is deconstructed, unmade by being made at once an actual agent of the pain and a demonstration of the effects of pain on human consciousness.”
–George W. Bush
“Holding the Bush administration responsible for torture would give us some high political drama that would feed the media goat for the next two years and also sap the body politic. The healthcare system would go unfixed, schools would crumble, basic public services would deteriorate, all so that the left could have at the right. I am an old museum-quality Northern liberal, and I know something about the righteousness of my confreres. I’ve been with old lefty friends who can get emotional about the Haymarket bombing in Chicago and the innocent men railroaded to the gallows, but dear hearts, it happened in 1886. Let’s move on.”
“Though indisputably real to the sufferer, [pain] is, unless accompanied by visible body damage or a disease label, unreal to others. This profound ontological split is a doubling of pain’s annihilating power: the lack of acknowledgement and recognition (which if present could act as a form of self-extension) becomes a second form of negation and rejection, the social equivalent of the physical aversiveness. This terrifying dichotomy and doubling is itself redoubled, multiplied, and magnified in torture because instead of the person’s pain being subjectively real but unobjectified and invisible to all others, it is now hugely objectified, everywhere visible, as incontestably present in the external as in the internal world, and yet it is simultaneously categorically denied.”
“It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department.”
— Attorney General Eric Holder
“Although the torturer dominates the prisoner both in physical acts and verbal acts, ultimate domination requires that the prisoner’s ground become increasingly physical and the torturer’s increasingly verbal, that the prisoner become a colossal body with no voice and the torturer a colossal voice (a voice composed of two voices) with no body, that eventually the prisoner experience himself exclusively in terms of sentience and the torturer exclusively in terms of self-extension.”
“The motive for torture is to a large extent the equivalent, though in a different logical time, of the fictionalized power; that is, one is the falsification of the pain and one the falsification after the pain. The two together form a closed loop of attention that ensures the exclusion of the prisoner’s human claim. Just as the display of the weapon (or agent or cause) makes it possible to lift the attributes of pain away from the pain, so the display of motive endows agency with agency, cause with cause, thereby lifting the attributes of pain still further away from their source. If displaying the weaponry begins to confer the prisoner’s pain into the torturer’s power, displaying the motive (and the ongoing interrogation means that it is fairly continually displayed) enables the torturer’s power to be understood in terms of his own vulnerability and need.”
The House today passed a $106 billion bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September, as House Democrats backed President Obama despite misgivings among the ranks about his strategy in Afghanistan.
The 226 to 202 vote came after Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had called some reluctant Democrats during the day imploring them to back the bill, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had strongly pressed her colleagues in a closed-door meeting to vote for the bill in a show of support for Obama, even if they oppose his strategy for increasing troops in Afghanistan. . . .
“We are in the process of wrapping up the wars. The president needed our support,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had earlier said he opposed the war funding but voted for it in the end. “But the substance still sucks” . . . .
House Democrats had put off the vote for more than a week, looking to win support for the bill. President Obama, who had pushed to insert a provision in the bill to bar the release of photos depicting abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody abroad, demanded the Senate take out the provision to win votes from House liberals who said they would not support the war bill if the photo ban was included.
In the end, 19 House Democrats backed the bill who had opposed it the first time, although some cited loyalty, not agreement with Obama’s plans, as their reason.
“I want to support my president,”said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who changed her no vote to a yes.