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IPFS News Link • Torture

A Documentary Makes the Case Against Torture by Interviewing the Tortured

"Didn't he get the memo that we're not relitigating the past?" That's what Rahm Emanuel reportedly shouted at a White House intermediary early in the Obama administration's tenure when he learned that Eric Holder had plans to investigate Bush-era torture. As Glenn Greenwald has discussed at length, the Obama White House has decided that our country shouldn't hold Bush, or Rumsfeld, or John Yoo, or anybody accountable for interrogations using torture which violate international and domestic law. Or, as Emanuel put it, "It's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution."

Hector Arisitzábal, who was tortured by police in Colombia because his brother was a Marxist, has a somewhat different perspective:

Afterwards, after I was let go I had nightmare after nightmare, fantasy after fantasy, of doing the worst things imaginable to my torturer. I came back, I worked, but I wasn't there.

For Emanuel, energy and time are something we can allocate rationally. Torture was an unfortunate policy, but that's all the more reason to not think about it too hard. For Arisitzábal, on the other hand, torture is a trauma, a recurring nightmare. It isn't something you can bracket in pragmatism. It snaps your life in half, and the tragedy is precisely that you can't go back to what you were before the break.