By Eric Ruder
The horrific images of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners have provoked revulsion around the world and in the U.S. “People in Iraq must understand…that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know,” said George W. Bush. What a convenient form of amnesia Bush must suffer from!
In 1996, when Bush was governor of Texas, a videotape shot for “training purposes” was leaked to the media that showed prison guards forcing inmates to strip and lie on the ground. In a haunting replay of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, a police dog was unleashed on several of the prisoners. Guards prodded several others with electric stun guns and forced them to crawl on the ground.
For two decades, Chicago police routinely beat, humiliated and subjected Black men to electroshock and other forms of torture. A group of these men, who call themselves the Death Row 10, were sentenced to death after “confessing” while being tortured. The scenes of torture in Chicago are no secret. In 1993, the city was embarrassed enough to force Lt. Cmdr. Jon Burge–the ringleader of the torture–into retirement. Today, investigators put the number of Burge’s victims at over 100.
Torture isn’t simply a consequence of a few bad apples, but a predictable result of demonizing the “enemy”–whether in Iraq or in the U.S. In contrast to Bush’s feigned ignorance, anyone familiar with America’s criminal justice system knows that torture is as American as apple pie.