Sunday, September 24, 2006

The metallic ribs of the chair backing had once stung their bare backs, but they had gotten used to it. They had been there two weeks, and had learned better than to try to escape, as their hands were bound behind them to the backs of their chairs with handcuffs.

Their hosts had only fed them enough to keep them alive: two servings of a glass of water and a slice of bread per day. The ribs of the emaciated authors protruded through their once meat-padded skin. A hollow boom echoed from the thick metal door as a man in full army fatigue walked in, his eyes scanning his captives.

Thin, black, fingerless gloves covered his hands as he pressed them up against the edge of the table across from Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. He opened his mouth as if to say something and thought better of it, and instead paced back and forth in front of the table. Finally, he stopped to clear his throat and said with a jolting quickness, "You guys ready?"

He was, of course, referring to the authors' willingness to reveal the sources that had given them information used in their book, "Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports."

Fainaru-Wada and Williams looked at the floor as if they would sink into it if they stared at it long enough. Their captor pounded his sheathed fist on the table. Looking at the authors for some sign of intimidation, he received nothing. They were statues bound in metal by metal.

The captor had a nameplate with his name brazen across: Sgt. Robert Crowley.

Crowley reached up at the chemical light above the table and carefully cracked the top of the tube with his index finger and thumb. He flicked several small broken shards of glass at the newly created top of the tube in his hand and smirked at Fainaru-Wada. Again, he leaned over the table, grabbing Fainaru-Wada, and poured the hot chemicals once used to emanate light down the back of Fainaru-Wada's shirt.

The author, writhed and screamed as the acid slid down his back. "I'll never tell!" he sobbed as he prayed for the pain to subside. He sat back in his chair, the cold metallic backing causing fleecing pain on his burnt skin. He lost consciousness.

Williams had kept his eyes shut while his co-worker was punished. Crowley walked around the table to Williams, and with the same index finger and thumb opened Williams' left eyelid. With a soothing tone to his voice, Crowley tried to tease the information out of Williams. "You don't want that to happen to you, do you? Do the right thing and just tell us where you got the information on Bonds."

"I'm so cold," muttered Williams.

"So end this game and save yourself."

He was hungry, tired, lonely, and ashamed of himself. For two weeks he had been brutally tortured, and even raped twice by a revolving door of Army officials.

A look of calmness rushed over Williams' face and he cracked a smile, which took Crowley by surprise.

Crowley punched the helpless man in the face, causing his head to ricochet off of the back of the chair. Williams was bleeding from the back of his head and through his mouth and nose. He chuckled.

The man in army fatigue was losing patience. "You won't win this game." He did an about face and stomped out of the room, slamming the hollow metal door behind him. Williams went to sleep.

When Williams awoke, he was laying in the middle of an octagon created by eight army men with a bucket of ice water in each hand. One noticed his awakening, stomped his steel-toed boots over to Williams and casually emptied the contents of his buckets on Williams. The cold had shocked his body, temoprarily paralyzing him.

He moved his eye around to survey his surroundings. One army man noticed the movement and pointed at him, and another man walked towards him. "Ready?"

Williams shouted a string of expletives at the man, who took the verbal assault with no change in expression. He kicked Williams in the stomach. Williams cringed.


The unforgivable beatings that the authors took while in detention were legal. They had tried to sue the United States and the Army, citing habeas corpus, and lost anyway. The torture used on the authors was legal, according to a bill signed by President George W. Bush, and Senators John W. Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, on Thursday, September 21, 2006.

Fainaru-Wada and Williams had given up their sources of information, which the United States government assumed to be true. It wasn't, and it was their dirty little secret.


Torture doesn't work, according to most intelligence experts. Newsweek writes:

The Bush administration has tried another approach to end-run critics: farming out torture. For years, American intelligence handed over prisoners to be interrogated by other security services less squeamish about squeezing information out of suspects. These so-called renditions picked up after 9/11. The very first high-ranking Al Qaeda operative captured Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libbi-was first interrogated by the FBI. But when the FBI wanted to use its normal, go-slow methods, the prisoner was turned over to the CIA, who promptly turned him over to the Egyptians. (NEWSWEEK has reported that as al-Libbi was led to a plane routed for Egypt, a CIA operative whispered in his ear that he planned to 'f--- your mother'.) Under the no-doubt rough care of the Egyptians, al-Libbi talked of plots and agents. The information was used to make the case for war against Iraq. As recounted in "Hubris," a new book by NEWSWEEK's Michael Isikoff and David Corn, there was only one problem: al-Libbi later recanted, saying that he had lied to stop the torture.


Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention states, "Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated," and, "...Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."


While putting the authors of 'Shadows' in the situation that many Middle-Eastern detainees are currently in is blatant hyperbole, it does not take away from the fact that what President Bush is trying to legalize is an exercise in monstrosity.

Who is Bush to rewrite the Geneva Conventions? Why is it okay for an American interrogator to pour hot chemical fluids on a detainee, but it isn't okay for others to do so to captured Americans?

With the Warner-Graham-McCain bill, "Congress would recognize [Bush's] authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts."


Speak out against the Bush administration by making your voice heard in protesting torture.

George Orwell wrote in his prescient novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, "Never, for any reason on earth, could you wish for an increase of pain. Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes, no heroes."