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The Torture of Absolute Power


The Torture of Absolute Power

Robert C. Koehler

“The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand that all the images be turned over and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.”


“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (attribution debatable)


This country was established in genocide and slavery, special tortures that still haunt us and put the lie to US efforts to spread freedom and democracy elsewhere. Torture has always been a tool implemented by those in power, and those in power now are pretty much the same people as those in power all along (rich, white, male property-owners). Torture is in the soul of this nation and until it is excised by addressing our founding and subsequent bloody years of oppressing the poor and communities of color, it will remain commonplace in one form or another, here and abroad.


I don’t think that old quote gets it right. The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for putatively good people to believe themselves to be acting with righteousness. Very few if any of the torturers and bystander killers could admit to themselves that they were getting off on what they were doing.

I 'm no historical scholar, but the lesson I take from what what I have read and the documentaries I’ve watched is humans have created more deadly injurious mayhem from a belief that they were heroically doing “good” than from all other reasons combined.

Kings, emperors, and the whole panoply of warlords declare themselves to be gods and the soldier follower true believers accept this artificial holiness in an attempt – often disturbingly succesful – to feel fine about the atrocities they’re perpetrating, to feel that they’re being “good” while doing dark and bloody things.


Well, the U.S. Supreme Court just authorized execution by chemical torture so we’re far from out of the woods.

This is what happens when you look forward, not back.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana


In times of crisis there are those that find their voice and speak truthfully and forcefully, without the pretense and conditional nuancing that happens in ordinary times. Not only Americans but the entire human race is in crisis as the great mass of humanity stand on the brink of enslavement by a very small percentage of our fellow beings. Enslaved to a paradigm that is poisoning not only our air, water, and land, but our minds, and our very un-supernatural souls.

RCK now with every piece speaks plainly and with an unadorned message, as do many others. This is where it has to start, to draw out the poison that has been injected into our bodily systems for too long now. The poison that was purposely and maliciously fed to the whole world by George W. Bush when he proclaimed “Fuck international law, fuck world opinion, fuck justice and decency, we are going to destroy Iraq, a country and a people that has done nothing to us, simply because we can. And if you don’t fucking like it, then stop us.”

Many millions worldwide took to the streets to say collectively “We would stop you” but the 1% that sit atop virtually every nation, large and small, said nothing and did nothing, seeing that this new lawlessness might be beneficial to themselves. They could rightly claim that they were just following the lead of the world’s self-proclaimed moral leader. And the poison that was personified by the Idiot King W worked its way down into the mindless minions, empowering a whole class of cruel automatons, our heroes in uniform. Drones, that now spent, face the nightmare of their complete moral emptiness, an un-curable PTSD.

How many of my fellow countrymen and women who did not take to the streets, who did not murmur any word of protest, on that night when that mouthpiece of death announced the commencement of “shock and awe” gave even a moment’s thought to the thousands of innocent lives that were going to be snuffed out in a matter of minutes? Blown to bits of broken flesh, blood, and bone against the broken walls and pavements of a broken future - the New American Century.

Terminator Nation.


The 1% responsible for torture think that the 99% would like to turn the torture tables on them so they double down. Oligarchs are reacting, like all conservatives do.

They don’t realize that their best protection from the guillotine is true democracy in all its political, economic and environmental forms. That it is not the Ponzi scheme they call “democracy”.


It helps relieve any discomfort to the soul if:

  1. Religious chaplains are brought into the Air Force to morally disable any drone pilots’ revulsion to dropping drones on innocent civilians
  2. The sitting President commands a Holy War/Crusades
  3. The nation’s fundamentalist churches insist that Muslims are evil (see #2)
  4. A chorus of voices all push the Great Lie that our nation has been attacked and thus all of these hideous practices are essential to saving lives
  5. Anyone who challenges the existing narratives, i.e. PR groomed major lies told often, is set up as a scoundrel, mentally-off individual, conspiracy theorist, or other persona non gratis title
  6. Hollywood sexes up the need for torture in the TV series: “24,” and then writes a fake framework (which too many will take for a true reflection of events) in a film like “Zero Dark Thirty.”


Is it terminator nation, or a nation forced into a subservient relationship to the military industrial complex?

Many in these threads (and among prominent voices–with platforms–on the Left) still prop up the Official Story–a massive lie that’s led to every other inversion of truth, justice, and formerly (think: Geneva Conventions) established law and legally enshrined frameworks. Torture was widely recognized as a major taboo…

Some citizens have spent their lives working for Civil Rights. Does the fact that these rights are being eviscerated by diabolically retrograde groups make those working for human rights responsible?

Many people have spent their lives fighting the corporations in working to protect food, water systems, forests, various species, and the sustainability of the natural world. That corporate clout using its central power–capital–within a system fueled by it have undermined their efforts hardly means that those doing good works are responsible.

And so in response to Mr. Koehler’s essay, the idea that sickos like Bush, Cheney and their legion of “Just following orders” military-trained operatives were not personally responsible for adulterating the legal rulebooks on torture is instead made into an indictment of all citizens.

Similar uniform assessments take place when states that have outlawed capital punishment are somehow tossed into the one-size-fits-all (false) framework that insists that the nation still kills its own.

Some do.

Not all people think, feel, and act in like measure.

What is done by the dominant baboons is no reflection upon the entire primate tribe. And until people get that, they will fall for the lie that WE all are alike. And if we all are alike, and therefore equally prone to the same shows of barbarism, then human nature is doomed.

This kind of tautological “argument” favors those who do kill and those who draw their checks from the world’s most consistently-committed–to-mass-murder entity in the world, the MIC. However, the truth is that many more do not abide by it, find it odious, do not agree with its tactics, falsified mission statements and cases fixed for war, and now its torture tactics. The problem is that those who don’t utilize violence are at a distinct disadvantage to those that do. This statement alone explains why the anglo-European male warriors (sworn to Christendom) managed to rip out the cultures, mores, and traditions of people all over the globe and supplant them with their own.

Without firepower granting the advantage–an advantage that is still glorified and prized by those who identify with war, martial fraternities, and the use of aggressive force to win their ends–a very different world featuring other values and areas lent vast funding would have resulted. There IS still time since a Time of Transition is now in progress. But to get from what was to what is, WE have to stop believing the old narratives and stories of ourselves that only grant witness and viability to those same dominant male warrior types (along with the narratives they use to rationalize THEIR primitive practices).

Other exists.
Other has value.
Other does not lead redundantly into war.
Other can nourish and bloom into being a different way of living, a different world.

It is time to begin to envision this other… or as members of The World Social Forum put it: “Another World Is Possible.”

WE do not all torture or endorse torture. Speak directly to those who do… and leave out all these broad conclusions that take what is true for a dominant few and insist it represents all others.


Since surprisingly no one brought this material up, I will: (From Wikipedia)

"The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology[1] and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.[2]

The experiments began in July 1961, in the basement of Linsly-Chittenden Hall at Yale University,[3] three months after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the popular question at that particular time: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?”[4] The experiments have been repeated many times in the following years with consistent results within differing societies, although not with the same percentages around the globe."

What was gained from the study–albeit a reflection of how obedience to authority is generated in top-down, patriarchal (which is to say hierarchical) societies–was proof that a high percentage of individuals WILL do what they are TOLD to do, even when it’s evident that obeying authority causes harm to another.

What’s equally important–and pertinent to my protest vote to this forum’s dominant WE (one size fits all) chorus, is that some don’t just follow orders.

Also noteworthy, but almost never mentioned is what role the Biblical Judeo-Christian belief in sin, a punitive father god, and adherence to all sorts of ritualistically enacted rules favors this outcome: a natural willingness to follow orders.

Now some in these threads, likely those paid by school privatizing outfits (and the PR firms pushing their agenda) would like to say that it’s government-based public schools/education that lead to this outcome.

The bottom line is that within father-knows-best, father-is-head-of-the-family units, obedience to authority is taught (or should I say indoctrinated) at a young age.

It’s no surprise that many people would follow authority–“I was only following orders,” as the Nazi soldiers pleaded at the conclusion of W.W II–when forcing children to do so on threat of going to hell and experiencing eternal damnation serves as a ubiquitous form of trauma-based mind control… set into place in most children at a tender age (before they can critically assess info to form their own opinions or perception of Truth).

However, a percentage still manages to pursue Truth and fly over “The Cuckoo’s Nest” of dangerous authoritarian controls. Let’s honor more of that! Rather than continuously insist that ALL persons are unthinking clones. THAT is a lie. And since conditioning has much to do with social, political, and collective cognitive outcomes…what matters are the values that citizens are taught to respect! (Note the primacy of aggression, force, war, and militarism in the USA today as it morphs before our incredulous eyes into a Fourth Reich.)

It’s critical that some act as witnesses for other–alternatives to this martial vision for a DEAD world composed of forcibly enslaved and/or terrorized clones.


Do you think Mitchell and Jesson might have been paid 80m to do “Special things to Special people” like recording neural network sequences of prisoners being tortured (innocent or not) to be used in the future on all people everywhere who do not comply with authority? (Neural network files can be copied over to and run on other brains, and pushed farther, to make the pain and terror greater, computerized to run automatically on entire populations.)
See Strategic-Culture dot org: NSA Makes Medical Intelligence Operations a Priority: Wayne Madsen, 05/06/2015