By YOUSEF DRUMMOND
FROM time to time a few political elites abandon their comfort zones to find clarity on whatever issue captures their attention. Others of their ilk find out more about their country’s failed policies than they can handle. One example of this deserves mention: Jenna Bush, the 25-year-old daughter of the current president of the United States, was on location with Dian Sawyer of ABC news in Jamaica in April of last year to call attention to one of her pet projects – AIDS awareness, violence and children’s rights – only to hear the natives hurl negative comments about her father’s failed policies in the Caribbean region concerning these issues. Christopher Hitchens has not met such a fate, and the issue he tackles is a subject of acrimonious debate both domestically here in the United States and on the international stage.
Both liberals and conservatives here in the United States became acquainted with Christopher Hitchens when he debated George Galloway on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, this governments’ mismanagement of the war, the untold hundreds of thousands of lives needlessly taken as a result of the war, and its unforeseen consequences. Both men were once steeped in British politics – Christopher Hitchens is an Oxford University graduate and radical journalist with left-leaning socialist policies who came to the U.S. during the 1980s to contribute as a columnist for The Nation, a left-liberal weekly magazine. His ideological swing to the neo-conservative ideological scale occurred during the second term of the Clinton administration, especially at the zenith of the Monica Lewinsky affair, during which he assisted in the Republican effort to portray the White House as a “cesspool of mendacity and immorality”. Specifically he signed an affidavit for right-wing Republicans in the House of Representatives alleging that a key Clinton aide, Sidney Blumenthal, provided him with damaging information relating to Monica Lewinsky. His distaste for liberalism is well known: he has labeled liberals as full of self-pity and has referred to them as a “resentful lynch-mob”. George Galloway is a Scottish politician who is now a RESPECT Member of Parilament for Betham Green and Bow and returned to parliament as its candidate in the 2005 general election. He had been a Member of Parliament representing the Labor Party but was expelled from it in October 2003 due to his open opposition against the British participation in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
George Galloway is well known for his tempestuous testimony at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May of 2005 concerning accusations of participating as active oil-trader for Saddam Hussein’s oil-for-food program. He is reported to have said this: “…I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr. Hans Blix (head of the IAEA – the International Atomic Energy Agency) and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country – a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.”
Christopher Hitchens is now a columnist for Vanity Fair magazine and is an author of numerous books, including the much reviled radical empirical text within religious circles – God is Not Great. George Galloway is author of Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington: The Man Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq.
Given Christopher Hitchens neo-conservative slant on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, even to the point of forwarding 10 reasons for the Iraq War in an article for the Weekly Standard, I was somewhat taken aback by his candid discussion of “waterboarding” in his latest column for Vanity Fair magazine . In point of fact, I found out about his experiences with this enhanced interrogation technique on YouTube. There he was, strapped to a board, with men experienced in the “art” of “waterboarding”, with towels covering his mouth and nose, and one of the men pouring a gallon of water over his face. The title of the article is Believe Me, It’s Torture . Here is an excerpt:
“You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it ‘stimulates’ the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning-or, rather, being drowned,or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method (italics mine). albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (
Note the phrase “or otherwise”. His experience with this “enhanced interrogation technique” was controlled through his permission. Christopher Hitchens is not a Guantanamo Bay detainee, or any other languishing in such prisons oversees. He goes on to say this: “It goes without saying that I knew I could stop the process at any time, and that when it was all over I would be released into happy daylight rather than returned to a darkened cell.”
I applaud Mr. Hitchen’s experiences with this interrogation technique, however briefly (if you watch the YouTube episode his experiences lasted about three minutes). Here he is – an articulate, well-spoken and savvy political elite who sought to investigate for himself an interrogation technique branded by the human rights community as torture. Here is an interrogation technique that the Bush administration continues to insist it doesn’t inflict on defenseless human beings, some of whom have been rounded up and transported to prisons oversees for no apparent reason. His experiences has enlightened him, indeed; it had become for him an existential moment. On a larger scale, though, his experiences demonstrate to skeptics all over who think that “waterboarding” is not torture that it is indeed torture. What will his cohorts say now? Mr. Hitchens often socializes within high-powered political big-wigs forming “an elite subset of Washington society – the crowd of journalists, intellectuals, authors and policymakers, mostly in their thirties and forties, who regularly dine together and dine out on each other”.
I ask everyone of good conscience to read Mr. Hitchen’s extraordinary piece in Vanity Fair. And if you cannot get the magazine, read it on the internet. Christopher Hitchens is now convinced that “waterboarding is indeed torture. And you will be convinced in turn.
The writer is a recent revert to Islam and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org