Torture? Really?

     Next time Ted Cruz or Donald Trump endorses torture, someone in the herd of sheep who masquerade as national reporters should ask Trump and Cruz if they would torture someone with their own hands.
     And if not: Why would they ask someone else to do it?
     Cruz and Trump don’t know a damn thing about torture. But I do.
     I’ve known hundreds of torture victims, and several torturers.
     You can read about it if you like in the first book ever published about U.S. immigration prisons, “Other People’s Blood.” I wrote it, 20 years ago. Nothing’s changed much since then, except the scale of the problem, and where the victims come from.
     I interviewed at length thousands of refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua during President Reagan’s wars in Central America. I interviewed thousands as a paralegal inside immigration prisons, and another thousand on the streets, from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York and Washington, D.C.
     I recall the lovely young Salvadoran woman who was raped and tortured inside Mariona Prison until she bled from her eyes. She wanted to bring water to a school.
     I recall the Salvadoran union organizer who saw his wife raped and beheaded inside Mariona. Then they tortured him too, and demanded the names of union members.
     And I recall the torturers: members of the Salvadoran and Guatemalan military.
     They were only following orders.
     Their lives were ruined. They might as well have been dead. And often wished they were.
     As torturers, they did not qualify for political asylum, so the law offices I worked for couldn’t represent them.
     A sergeant who deserted the Salvadoran army gave political prisoners LSD, then tortured them and subjected them to mock firing squads. He wept in the little interview room in the Texas prison. He didn’t want to do it, he said. If he’d refused, they would have tortured him.
     Sorry, pal. Torturers don’t qualify for any sort of legal protection.
     A Guatemalan enlisted man had to force peasants to the ground and run over them in his army boots. “I felt so sorry for them, the poor people. They had done nothing.” He deserted when things got worse. No help for him either. He was a torturer.
     A Salvadoran army colonel tortured his own son, who had joined the guerrillas, by wiring a bucket to his son’s testicles and filling it with water while administering electroshock, demanding the names of his companions. No help for the father or the son — the son was a guerrilla and the father was a torturer.
     Would you like to hear what happened to these people after they had tortured, and been tortured, and fled to the United States, which had paid for and endorsed the torture?
     No, you do not.
     Trust me on this.
     Neither do Donald Trump or Ted Cruz want to hear it.
     Nor do they want you to know it.
     Do we really want to order members of our armed forces to torture people — for any reason at all — then be mustered out after two years to return to our society?
     No, we do not.
     Trust me on this.
     High-ranking officials in the Pentagon and CIA, to their credit, have told Trump they would refuse to issue orders to torture people. I can’t recall any of them going on the record to say they would refuse the orders if President Cruz ordered it. Cruz, after all, is a … what is he, exactly?
     I’ll tell you what he is.
     Inside every bully is a coward.
     And as Ernest Hemingway said, “Fascism is a lie told by bullies.”

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