You’re Torturing Me

Torture definition is – the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Recently, I came across the 1965 Everly Brothers hit classic, “Torture.” Naturally, I remembered back to my early unflattering days of love.  Mary Powers, name changed to protect her presumed innocence, not guilty until proven otherwise. My first kiss was with her and took place beneath a Emergency Fallout Shelter; it was a simple quick peck; she looked down in sweet blush, which I mistook for coquettishness at the time; I wanted more, she didn’t; she left me to my aching; something happened, shit kicked in; my Billy Bulger was not yet in charge of my senatorial need for presiding order over my hormones — I was Whitey, the brother from Hell, whacking reason and having ‘talks’ with sobriety, giving in to impulse, alone; and, Mary Powers played me, she read my gulp, saw my pursed lips, toyed and coyed, I couldn’t get her out of my mind.  I said to her, many years later in my dreams, I’m drowning, please stop waterboarding me, and she goes, “It’s not real drowning, just simulated. It’s love, you’ll get over it.” I never saw her again and we’re no longer an item.

These days of le théâtre de l’absurde in the round anything seems to go. If Jan 6 is any indicator, we’ve totally lost the plot.  It would have been more interesting if they had succeeded — just to see what they were really up to, after the moping stopped, and Nancy was stripped of her insider trading portfolio conveniently lodged in her stolen podium. Imagine that Howl Head with the horns really in charge. Instead, we’re forced against our wills, held down by the MSM and made to believe, kicking and screaming against, that what happened on Jan 6 was serious enough to warrant adult attention.  When, in fact, it was about as interesting as a Road Runner episode with styrofoam anvils — beep! beep! no real danger to Democracy. Sanity maybe.

And speaking of adults and torture trauma, Mary Powers, through the Everlys, made me think of the 2014 Torture Report [here it is again, in case you didn’t around to it], of all things, like I got time for that kind of madness these days.  A film, The Report, was put out, too. Essentially, they both said that the US Senate believes that EIT are forms of torture, and that it doesn’t work, and produced no useful intel to prevent further 9/11 attacks.  Senator Feinstein even went so far as to aver, arms akimbo, “If it works, why do we need to do it 183 times?” Crickets.

The torture subcommittee was run by Dianne Feinstein and her primary researcher was Daniel Jones, both of who come across as shiny nights in armored stars. But then I recall reading somewhere that Ms. Dianne “Integrity” Feinstein was alleged to have made money illegally inside trading on pandemic stocks. Jones, I later read, was involved with disseminating the anti-Trump Steele Dossier totally discredted by the Horowitz Report. This does not mean that EIT’s not torture, but only that Feinstein and Jones are not unflawed, or particularly interested in fairness or even democracy if Jonesy’s work is analyzed.

But Mary did get me thinking, or my buffed-up memory got me free associating, and I recalled “Inside a 9/11 Mastermindʼs Interrogation,” the NYT piece back in 2008 that seemed to put the lie to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT). In the article, Scott Shane, acts as a propagandist for 14 graphs, with no identifiable attribution (“officials say”), before quoting a CIA officer in graph 15. To me, this smells of high-handed heaven, and reminds me of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that reported on the Olympic bombing by employing the Voice of God method — no attribution. The newspaper used its reputation as an authority in lieu of facts. Their piece on Richard Jewell led to the destruction of his life. For who can counter God?

The NYT article’s purpose is to propose to the reader that “we”don’t need EIT to break the big shot goombahs of al Qaeda.  We gotta guy who can play “nice ball” like you wouldn’t believe — a true alternative to waterboarding.  Name’s Deuce (pronounced Doosh, I’m pretty sure) Martinez. In the early graphs, an un-named CIA officer tells Shane that our Deuce “chose to leave the infliction of pain and panic to others, the gung-ho paramilitary types whom the more cerebral interrogators called ‘knuckledraggers.’”  Deuce was put on KSM, because, as the officer tells it: “If anyone knew about the next plot, it was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.” One thing led to another, said the officer, and next thing you know they got them some rapport and KSM is writing poetry to [Deuce’s] wife, and, says the officer, “They’d have long talks about religion.”

And remember, when they started, says this officer, in a different interview with ABC’s Brian Ross, it was, No Way, Jose, because the al Qaeda goombahs “hate us more than they love life.” And suddenly, I have a problem. [SPOILER ALERT: About to name the NYT CIA officer.]  The long ABC interview, where we’re told They hate us and no rapport is possible, came a year before the NYT, where Deuce comes to the rescue and establishes rapport and gets KSM to write poetry. Deuce squeezes KSM for info with love and empathy and stuff. No the same CIA officer is saying torture works — it broke Abu Zubaydah — the waterboarding turned him into a little girl.  And soon he, too, was writing poetry. (Shit, I’m thinking, there are writers out there who would die for such an opportunity to crack their writer’s block at Gitmo Academy. Are there scholarships available?) Anyway, the unnamed NYT CIA officer (drum roll) is none other than Prince Charming himself — John Kiriakou. Damn, the he did time for whistleblowing on torture. Confuddling.

Alright, so the son-of-a-gun spook contradicted himself a year later in his interview with the NYT.  He’ll have to face God one day.  But that contradictoriness is not even the real thorn in my side, when I re-read the NYT piece, actually reaching the bottom the next time, I saw, buried, a disturbing development.  Our Deuce, after inducing poetry from Arab goombahs, was a direct indicator that other ways of reaching the “detainees” (20 years now) with info about new pearl harbors were available, and we didn’t need any more knuckle-draggers to perform waterboarding and AC/DC air guitaring naked. Buried at the bottom of the article is this telling information:

His interrogator [Deuce] has moved on, too. Like many other C.I.A. officers in the post-9/11 security boom, Mr. Martinez left the agency for more lucrative work with government contractors … His life today is quiet by comparison with the secret interrogations of 2002 and 2003. But Mr. Martinez has not turned away entirely from his old world. He now works for Mitchell & Jessen Associates, a consulting company run by former military psychologists who advised the C.I.A. on the use of harsh tactics in the secret program.

Deuce went to work for the CIA’s EIT guys after breaking KSM and AZ with poetry? Are you hallucinating, too?

This makes me think of Mary Powers again. Sad to recall the poems I wrote for later girls, some of them not necessarily untouched, that were meant for Mary, who moved to Kansas, I later learned.  Recently, Borat, dressed as Israeli Defense Force anti-terrorism officer, compared notes with Dick Cheney on the best way to “mow the lawn,” comparing statsm before asking the Dick to autograph his waterboard bottle.  Dick keenly does:


I yearned to give Mary my heart to autograph, Borat style — there was still room on my chambers.

By now, we all know that the neoconservatives that made up the Bush administration — HEY, FUN FACT: Did you know that GW Bush was a pilot for the Air National Guard in Texas and who, though in danger of going to Nam, went AWOL anyway. The Bushes were close to the bin Ladens. Raise your hand if you think that Bush might have personally trained the 911 hijackers to kamikaze into the Towers, like the Japs did at Pearl Harbor.) — early on said that they were “taking the gloves off.”  Here’s a Cheney type trying to do just that, in Dr. Strangelove, a film Daniel Ellsberg called, only slightly jocularly, “a documentary”:


You really got a hold on me. It was glove at first sight.

By taking the gloves off, the Bush administration meant EIT.  The CIA brought in two psychologists (the aforementioned Mitchell and Jessen) with Power Points to show the techniques. Big hit.  One of the psychologists even had a degree — in counselling — from an Alaskan university. Clientele so fuckin cabin feverish they tell psychs there that not only do grizz shit in the woods, they drive in the woods — he even captured footage with his iPhone. Holy thit! The EIT description is pretty severe. I’ll bet many an agent recoiled at such merciless tactics. At least one of them quoted Nietzsche: When fighting monsters, one must be careful that one does not become one, too. Take a look at the list from Wikipedia, the common man’s oracle:

The following techniques were authorized by the U.S. military:

Loud music, and light control
Environmental manipulation
Sleep deprivation/adjustment
Stress positions
20-hour interrogations
Controlled fear (including use of dogs)

Sweet cheeses! What are we barbarians?! And when we learn, as we inevitably must, that EIT came to “us” directly from the Gestapo, how can we ever hold our heads up high again — like in that Argent song?

That would have been bad enough.  But then Mary Powers held me down and made me see more evil than a young man should have to endure: Operation Paper Clip. Obscenity?! as Warren Beatty’s Bulworth would say.  I recalled, almost against my will, a book review I did last year. A CIA whodidn’tdoit? called Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control that is a biog of the CIA’s mastermind Sydney Gottlieb of MKULTRA fame. But that was softball.  Under Operation Paper Clip, Gottlieb (whose name means the for the love of God), America imported Nazi and Japanese war criminals to enhance their techniques. Compare to the EIT list above what General Shiro Ishii (think: Professor Tanaka) got up to in Manchuria:

slowly roasted by electricity…hung upside down…locked into high-pressure chambers until their eyes popped out; spun in centrifuges infected with anthrax, syphilis, plague, cholera, and other diseases; forcibly impregnated to provide infants for vivisection; bound to stakes to be incinerated by soldiers testing flamethrowers; and slowly frozen to observe the progress of hypothermia.

Now that’s taking the gloves off!!! At the time, Gottlieb was trying to make Castro’s beard fall out with chems, but this guy, this Ishii, now he was a genius.

Well, except in parts of Australia, where the Paul Hogan Rule applies, nobody wants to go squishy Ishii or zany Cheney any more.  They’ve figured out you can do it all on line now. Hivemind. Algorithms. Targets. Dissidents. Bye-Bye.  Recently, I read a couple of Chris Hedges pieces that are so fuckin depressing in their implications that you feel a personal gotterdammeruung coming on — the powerful turbine of your mind winding down, cellos thrumming, Jack Frost, the dogmatist next door not satisfied with with the bone of contention he’s been thrown, nipping at your heels.  Here, Hedges woofs out Nietzsche in “American Sadism”: No point running; it’s a junk yard dogmatism:

The ressentiment in American society, the political scientist Wendy Brown writes, is born not only from feelings of powerlessness and worthlessness, but feelings of dethronement and lost entitlement. It explains what she calls the “permanent politics of revenge, of attacking those blamed for the dethronement white maleness — feminists, multiculturalists, globalists, who both unseat and disdain them.” For this reason, the rage cannot, as it could be in Christian theology, sublimated into self-abnegation and a call to love of thy neighbor. There is, in short, nothing to mitigate or redirect this ressentiment. It’s pure expression is nihilism and sadism. Trump embodied this dark ethic. Revenge is his sole philosophy of life. Those gripped by ressentiment are no longer able to create. They can only destroy. They gleefully ignite their own funeral pyre.

The Jan 6 “happening” was a taste of things to come. When the MAGA clowns turn John Wayne Gacy in platoons.

And more recently, I almost fell off my easy chair with a hard attack, when I read this Hedges bit, from “The Anonymous Executioners of the Corporate State”:

None of this would surprise those targeted by the tyrannies of the past. What would be surprising, perhaps, to many Americans is how advanced our own corporate tyranny has become. Donziger never stood a chance. Neither does Julian Assange. These judges are not, in the end, focused on Donziger or Assange, but on us. The show trials they preside over are meant to be transparently biased. They are designed to send a message. All who defy corporate power and the national security state will be lynched. There will be no reprieve because there is no justice.

Is it me or is Chris Hedges fuckin angry?  Hedges of course has that website, Empire Burlesque, named, presumably, after the Dylan album — not bad, “Brownsville Girl,” “Dark Eyes”: A million faces at my feet but all I see are dark eyes.  Jesus. How’d I ever make it past this guy?

We all know from first love what torture is. It’s no laughing matter. It can affect the health of your baby batter. We have to learn to fight the Mary Powers effect. Put away the traumas of childhood kisses. Maybe it’s time to put the love back on. What do you say?


John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.