Monday, August 11, 2008

'Water Boarding' is the Medieval 'Trial by Water'

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Len Hart

Water boarding is guaranteed to get bad intelligence. So --why is the Bush administration so adamant in its defense? There are only two credible explanations:

  • They are stupid and don't know any better;
  • They are perverts and get off on it!
'Water boarding' is said to 'simulate' drowning and, thus, frighten one into 'telling the truth'. In fact, it frightens one into telling whatever he/she thinks will make the torture stop. That is, in my opinion, the very definition of torture, i.e, any procedure so painful or frightening that the 'victim' will say anything to make it stop. It's medieval. It's does not work. It does not obtain reliable information. It is cruel by any civilized standard. In medieval times, the European Continent was an unlikely birthplace for an enlightenment that was not to come for another 1,000 years. Yet, already, under Bush, we have begun a descent into a new dark age.

A trial in medieval times, for example, was, like Bush's program of torture, based less upon evidence or witnesses than upon the outcome of an ordeal in which it was believed God would assert his powers. Disputes, for example, were resolved by combat. It was believed that God would favor whomever was in the right.

Suspected witches were subject to trial by water in which those found innocent were no better off than those judged guilty. Like water boarding, those who feared imminent death would tell the inquisitors whatever they wanted to hear --a confession. It was a temporary reprieve. Death by drowning was the fate of those confessing as well as those whom the Devil insisted protest their innocence.

In Bush's America, those tortured have already been 'deemed' to be 'terrorists'. What is actually said is not only unreliable, it doesn't really matter. We must conclude that the procedure itself is merely the expression of psychopathic perversions. In this situation, only delusional supporters of George W. Bush could believe that information gained under such conditions could be, in any sense, reliable. The procedure says more about the perversions of the torturer than anything said by the victim about 'terrorism'.
In the regime of Elizabeth I, torture was carried out by Richard Topcliffe, a pervert who loved his job. Topcliffe 'earned' the right to torture 'enemies' of the Elizabethan state. He had earlier served the Queen's secretary, William Cecil, later created Lord Burghley. By 1570 he was getting on the job training in service to Elizabeth's master spy, Sir Francis Walsingham and the Privy Council. Topcliffe claimed that no one else was as effective at torture. His instruments, he said, were of his own design and better than 'official' methods. The Queen authorized Topcliffe to set up his own torture chamber in his home in London with blackened windows against the passing curious. He is said to have been personally involved in carrying out the death sentences upon convicted Catholics. His methods included hanging and drawing and quartering. In numerous accounts, Topcliffe is described variously as "old and hoary", a "veteran in evil". His victims included the poor and infamous, prominently the Jesuit, Robert Southwell, a cousin of William Shakespeare. To bring Southwell to justice, Topcliffe raped Anne Bellamy repeatedly until she agreed to help Topcliffe apprehend Southwell.

Thanks to a wonderful BBC documentary by Michael Woods, we have this accurate 'word for word' exhange between Southwell and Richard Topcliffe. Woods calls it "...a scene of menace that could have leaped straight out of a Hannibal Lecter movie, and a moment of psychological barbarity that did certainly influence Shakespeare."
Southwell: I am decayed in memory with long and close imprisonment, and I have been tortured ten times. I had rather have endured ten executions. I speak not this for myself, but for others; that they may not be handled so inhumanely, to drive men to desperation, if it were possible.

Topcliffe: If he were racked, let me die for it.

Southwell: No; but it was as evil a torture, or late device.

Topcliffe: I did but set him against a wall.

Southwell: Thou art a bad man.

Topcliffe: I would blow you all to dust if I could.

Southwell: What, all?

Topcliffe: Ay, all.

Southwell: What, soul and body too?

Southwell was, of course, convicted of exercising his religious convictions. The following account from Wiki is based upon surviving accounts by witnesses and is consistent with practices in the Elizabethan police state.
On the next day, February 20, 1595, Southwell was sent to Tyburn. Execution of sentence on a notorious highwayman had been appointed for the same time, but at a different place — perhaps to draw the crowds away — and yet many came to witness Southwell's death. Having been dragged through the streets on a sled, he stood in the cart beneath the gibbet and made the sign of the cross with his pinioned hands before reciting a Bible passage from Romans xiv. The sheriff made to interrupt him; but he was allowed to address the people at some length, confessing that he was a Jesuit priest and praying for the salvation of Queen and country. As the cart was drawn away, he commended his soul to God with the words of the psalm in manus tuas.

He hung in the noose for a brief time, making the sign of the cross as best he could. As the executioner made to cut him down, in preparation for bowelling him while still alive, Lord Mountjoy and some other onlookers tugged at his legs to hasten his death. His lifeless body was then bowelled and quartered. As his severed head was displayed to the crowd, no one shouted the traditional "Traitor!"
Bellamy had become pregnant and married Topcliffe's servant to cover up what had happened. Though she was, perhaps, fortunate to have survived an encounter with Topcliffe, she suffered needlessly. Southwell never denied his faith and would have been convicted in any case. Her rape served only Topcliffe's perversity. Bellamy was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of victims of state-sanctioned perversion.
"...this England that was want to conquer others, hath made a shameful conquest of itself..." --Richard II, William Shakespeare
Richard II was considered by Elizabeth to have been a seditious play, a parody of her own dictatorial regime. By this time, the bloom was off the rose and the aging Elizabeth no longer represented the future of the nation. She considered the play by Shakespeare to have been seditious but allowed it because, as Augustin Phillips (of Shakespeare's company) might have said in defense of the players: it's was only show biz, your majesty! Nevertheless, a paranoid, aging queen raged aloud in her chambers: 'no ye not that I am Richard II?" She was also convinced that it was not William Shakespeare but Christopher Marlowe who wrote Richard II, their performances bought and paid for by Essex who was typically late for his own coup d'etat! His hastily planned coup failed, of course, and later, he would pay the ultimate price for high treason.
Having much earlier saved Marlowe's academic career and the degree which Cambridge officials might have denied him, the Queen might well have been in a position to know whether or not Marlowe survived a fateful night in Deptford where legend says he died just two weeks before a play play bearing the name 'William Shakespeare' was registered. As we have learned in numerous James Bond films: 'You Only Live Twice'.

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