"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

The Torture Nobody Talks About

First posted at The Smirking Chimp, June 29, 2009.

It irritates me sometimes. Really, it does.
All of the shrill screeching on this and other progressive sites calling for Cheney, W, and others, to be sent to the Hague for trial for sanctioning the torture of inmates at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc. Not that these aren't egregious crimes. But the priority is misplaced.
A few hundred, maybe a few thousand, inmates were/are tortured at these facilities. But it truly pales in comparison to what goes on in this country, every day of every year. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are tortured, starved, and otherwise abused on a daily basis in American prisons, especially state prisons (although there is plenty of abuse at Federal prisons as well). County jails even figure into the picture.

Every day, inmates are beaten, tasered, put in restraints that can maim and even kill, thrown into concrete cells without light or heat, even starved. Medical care is withheld, frequently with fatal consequences. The atrocities happen daily, and are far too numerous to begin listing here.
Yet I see no calls on these pages to arrest and prosecute Rick Perry, Bobby Jindahl, or even Joe Arpaio.
All of these men, and many more, oversee and administer brutality of the worst sort on a daily basis. While much hair pulling is done over the fact that Cheney authorized torture of detainees, nobody here is calling for the head of their state corrections director.
Gangrene is a very treatable and preventable disease. Yet it kills over 300 Americans a year. Almost all of these deaths occur in US prisons, and almost all would be preventable if US prisoners were allowed even basic medical care. US prisoners with epilepsy are routinely denied anti-epileptic medication, and sometimes suffer fatal seizures as a result.
Women in American prisons have a childbirth death rate that rivals the worst third world countries. Non-medical personnel frequently administer what little "care" inmates receive.
Every day, your fellow Americans are stripped naked, forced to crawl on the floor, stomped on, beaten with clubs, attacked by dogs. Many are denied the basic 3 meals per day. They are raped and murdered, not just by each other, but by prison guards as well.
We scream in collective outrage when some of these things are done to foreign nationals, but are strangely silent when they are done to our fellow Americans. It is not irrelevant to the international "war on terror" torture issue, either. Most of those guards at Abu Ghraib were National Guard members. Would you care to guess what their civilian occupations are? That's right, US prisons are the training grounds for military torture.
Why the deafening silence? Are liberals just as convinced as wingnuts are that most people in prison are guilty of horrible crimes against humanity, and deserve their daily torture? Do you just not care? Or are you unaware?
Most people in American prisons were not convicted of violent crimes. Many are actually innocent, either falsely convicted, or pressured to plead guilty to a lesser offense rather than face a jury for a more serious offense. The rate of acquittals in jury trials in the US is about 3%. In poll after poll, Americans say that they trust prosecutors and mistrust defense attorneys.
Once you're in the system, it doesn't matter if you're there for raping and dismembering a 4 year old, or were simply caught with a few grams of coke in your glove compartment. Either way, you are subject to largely the same brutal treatment.
Waterboarding? It probably happens. What definitely happens, daily, in Americans prisons, is the use of "restraint chairs" that can cause a slow death from asphyxiation. Sensory deprivation? Standard operating procedure. Loosing dogs on naked prisoners? Check.
Yes, it would be nice to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for Guantanamo. But first, I'd like to see Rick Perry answer for the daily brutality that goes on in the Texas Department of Corrections.
UPDATE: Not that I expected an overwhelming response or anything, but the continuing lack of discourse on this subject reinforces my opinion that most of y'all out there really don't give a flying rat's ass about the torture that your fellow Americans (or really anyone else, for that matter) face daily. Torture really isn't the issue for you at all, is it? The only reason most people around here mention torture at all is to use it as a political weapon against the former administration, and even the current one.
The priorities of most Chimpsters on this subject seem to be:
1. Let's use this to string up Cheney et al!
2. Let's use this as another issue to trash Obama on!
3. Who cares about actual people who are being tortured right now!