Online Resource for Victims of Psychopaths and Narcissists

Bush's POW Porn

By Dr. SUSAN BLOCK

I was wondering when I would get a glimpse into the erotic nature of George W. Bush. Now, with the release of The Photos of the sexual torture that lurks within the bowels of Bush's cells, I'd say I've got my glimpse.

Now excuse me while I barf along with the rest of civilized and uncivilized humanity.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Each of The Photos is worth a thousand new terrorists, fully loaded, strapped up and ready to blow up as many ugly Americans as possible.

But I digress.

I want to take a long, hard look at Bush's sexuality. Because The Photos are Bush's porn. Oh, he says they "disgust" him. Of course, they do. Listen, I'm a sex therapist. Many of my clients will say something disgusts them at first, only to confess a few sessions later that it really turns them on.

Shortly after the censorship dam burst and The Photos were released publicly, Bush issued his first attempt at apologizing: "I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated." He coughed up the words like a chicken bone, or that pretzel he swallowed and almost choked on. And he looked like a shifty-eyed boy caught by his mama, his schoolteacher and the whole neighborhood with his political pants down, way down around his ankles, exposing his severe shortcomings for all the world to revile.

Notice that he started to say how "those prisoners" were "treated." But then, he couldn't say it. After all, it might have given him an erection. Which would not help his reelection.

George II was so disgusted that, a few hours after he made these pious pronouncements, he went to a private party at the home of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Line Producer of Bush's POW Porn. I assume that Rummy and Mrs. Rummy provided barf bags for everyone.

Giving Bush's War That Extra Spice

Amazing how many synonyms for "disgust" have dripped and dribbled like infected spittle from the rapidly dissembling mouths of various pro-war pundits and politicians, as they too are compelled to submit their reviews of Bush's POW Porn, which they helped to produce, promote and distribute. They are APPALLED. Shocked. Dismayed. Disturbed. Sickened. Nauseated. Rummy is "stunned." Condi is "outraged." Yes, this is a "deep disgust," as the President so compassionately suggested, that the whole Team Bush Torture Production and Distribution Wing "shares."

And yes, it's all very disgusting and dismaying to see hooded, naked men being forced to "assume the position" in a perverse pornographic Passion Play. But is it any less disgusting and dismaying to see them bombed to bloody smithereens? Is it less disgusting to see their heads blown off, their bodies riddled with bullet holes, their arms shattered, their legs amputated, their skin burnt to a crisp? Is it any less disgusting to see their families murdered, their children pulverized, their libraries torched, their museums looted, their hospitals ruined, their homes razed, their oil stolen, their land RAPED by invaders? Everything about the Rape of Iraq-that is, the brutal, unprovoked invasion and occupation of this sovereign, ancient land--has been "disgusting." The Photos just give the ongoing horror of Bush's War a little extra "spice."

But, oh that spice. It packs such potent psychic punch. It titillates as it appalls. It's not the kind of thing that hurts your eyes like a cluster bomb victim with no arms or legs and burns all over her body, or a guy on the road whose head has been run over like a ripe melon by a U.S. tank. Bush's POW Porn is disturbing, but you can look at it. In fact, you kind of want to stare at it. Why do you think they show The Photos over and over everywhere, even on Fox?

I still stand by my statement to Charlie Radin of the Boston Globe that "death is worse than rape." Considerably worse. But I have to admit that sometimes sex makes a bigger impression than death. After all, death is so final, so depressing, so yesterday. Sex is always intriguing, even if it's "disgusting."

Of course, the more explicit parts of The Photos are still censored. This is not Bush's doing; just the U.S. Media, always protecting American eyes from Arab assholes and genitalia.

But The Photos are more than genital. They have meaning. They have mystery. In fact, they're fraught with more mysterious meanings than a Freudian dream with Reichian overtones and shades of "Strange Fruit." They show torture, of course, clearly forbidden by the basic tenets of the Geneva Convention, not to mention human decency. But they show more than that. They show sexual torture. Nakedness, leashes, penises, butts, masturbation, latex gloves, panties, grins of ecstasy, grimaces of agony. They show a dark drama, a Theater of Cruelty that Antonin Artaud only dreamt about, complete with masks and props and imaginative staging, heavy on the symbolism, daring to cross psychological and religious boundaries, daring to sodomize the Saddamites, and smile for the camera. It is the stuff of our sadomasochistic, exhibitionist-voyeuristic, hetero/homosexual, racist-colonialist nightmares.

It's also a farce, a frat house prank, a practical joke, a lynching party except (some of) the victims get to live, a hazing into hell, an initiation into the penal code-ha, ha, ha! As Rush Limbaugh chortled, The Photos show patriotic American soldiers engaged in making "good old American pornography." True, but there is one critical difference between Bush's POW Porn and the films of most American porn companies like, say, Extreme Associates, currently under indictment for obscenity by Bush's top lawyer Ayatollah Asscraft. That difference is that in Extreme Associates' porn, the actors are paid to perform; in Bush's POW porn, the actors are forced to perform. Ha, ha, ha! Joke's on you, Mohammed! The raghead becomes a hoodhead. What a comedy!

And what a tragedy. Pathos, terror, broken men, dead ones too, depraved soldiers, maniacal interrogators, a profoundly sick system, America's hope dipping below the lowest of the low. And more pictures and video are yet to come, which Bush and his collaborators may or may not let us see. The Director's Cut.

What we have already seen boggles, bullies and fascinates even the most sophisticated, jaded 21st century mind. Painfully bound prisoners writhe at the feet of the latex-gloved conqueror. Naked men wear black hoods that cover their heads like bags, disorienting their senses and masking their humanity. It's a War-on-Terror twist on the old saying, "Just put a bag over her (or his) head," and you can do anything to her (or him).

It's hard to imagine anything more offensive to Muslims than to see fellow Muslims being forced by laughing Christians to get naked and do sexual things to each other. Not that these images don't offend Christians too, resembling, as they do, some Hieronymous Boschian lower depths of Satanica. Jews might find the images horrifically reminiscent of naked Jewish men and women being put through their paces by Nazi concentration camp guards. Hindus and Buddhists are also disgusted. So are Pagans and Ethical Hedonists. For us, the nudity isn't the problem; it's the fact that these guys are being forced by their captors to do things we prefer to associate with love and pleasure that is so, well, disgusting. It's especially disturbing (and ironic) that many of The Photos have been released during the month of May, declared "Masturbation Month" by Dr. Betty Dodson and other assorted sex-positive feminists. Bush's Goddess-Damned War won't even let us jill off in peace!

Pyramid Schemes

Several of The Photos show the grinning guards forcing the naked men to make pyramids. Pyramids? In Exodus (the second of the Five Books of Moses, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims), we read of the Egyptian taskmasters who forced their Hebrew slaves to build the Great Pyramids, beating and humiliating them, making them suffer and die for the enormous triangular tombs. Then, so the Exodus story goes, it was the turn of the taskmasters and their Pharaoh to suffer disgusting tortures and die horrible deaths, cursed by their own greed and grandiosity.

The pyramids in The Photos are the bare bodies and hooded heads of the prisoners themselves. The American guards grin, like camp counselors, proudly presenting their charges to the camera. Children in every culture make pyramids; it's a common, innocent game. Turning the men into children may be part of the "regression" the CIA manuals talk about when they euphemistically describe this "torture lite" or "stress and duress." The idea is "to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist." In other words, turn the man into a child and have him "adopted" by one or two extremely violent, sexually abusive "parents."

The parents (guards) prepare the child (prisoner) for class (interrogation). If you don't do well in class (tell the interrogators what they want to hear), you are punished. Making the naked human pyramids, being forced to rub your no-longer-private parts against your fellow hapless prisoners bare flesh, is one form of humiliation-style punishment that is, it seems, specifically designed to shatter the dignity and sanity of the Muslim man.

Of course, this is not to say there aren't gay Muslims. Homosexuality exists in every culture. But for most moderately religious Muslims of any sexual orientation, the forced public commission of such acts is more or less equivalent to a psychological electric shock. This is one reason that pre-interrogation "softening up" techniques like these do seem to "work." They make the victims lose their minds, and consequently, their defenses. Does it get them to talk? Probably. Would it get them to tell the factual truth? Probably not. More likely, it would get them to fantasize.

Perhaps fantasies were all the interrogators could hope for when they were desperately searching for phantom Weapons of Mass Destruction to satisfy the agenda of the Grand Auteur of this avant garde cinema verité multi-billion dollar porn production--Mr. GW Bush--along with his production studios, otherwise known as the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence and the U.S. incarceration industry.

But before we tear into Bush and co., let's take a look at a few more of The Photos

Presenting: POW Porn Superstar Lynndie England!

Several Photos feature a pixyish young woman, Private Lynndie England of West Virginia. Private Lynndie has a lot of presence. If The Photos weren't so, well, appalling, the girl could use them as a stepping stone to stardom, or at least 15 minutes of fame and a book deal right after the court martial. In one shot, little Lynndie looks almost sweet, like a college cheerleader, as she smiles brightly, pointing to the exposed genitals of the man beside her sitting on the back of another naked hooded man. She gives the thumbs-up-to whom? To the folks back home? To the prisoners themselves for later viewing and further humiliation (plus the threat of showing their folks back home). To other hapless prisoners that might see The Photos and quiver that they could be next? To her bosses at Military Intelligence? To her bigger bosses at the Pentagon? Or maybe it's to the really Big Boss back home, the Chief Cheerleader, the Man with a Mission that Private Lynndie, in her small, pixyish way, is helping to accomplish. "Thumbs-up to torture, Mr. Prez! Private Lynndie, an all-American gal after your bullying heart, is on the job. Mission Accomplished!"

In another Photo, Private Lynndie seems a little kookier. Maybe she'd been drinking, or maybe she was just drunk on power. Maybe she was told to pose like this. A cigarette dangles, Bogie-like, from her lips, as she moves down her row of naked hooded men. She is making one masturbate for her, but she gives her smile to the camera.

You can tell Lynndie knows she's good at this sexual torture stuff. Why, she could set herself up as a professional dominatrix when she goes home to West Virginia. She'd do a bang-up business (especially after all this PR). Though it wouldn't be the same. After all, the guys that go to doms want to be abused. The way The Photo tells it, Private Lynndie's hooked on the real stuff, the power that comes from having a bunch of fellow soldiers with guns backing you up, the power of forcing petrified men (your prisoners) to humiliate themselves for the pleasure of other men (your bosses). There are no "safe words" here. Lucky Lynndie dances down her conga line of Boys in the Hoods.

Then, there's Lynndie again, right hand giving the thumbs up, left arm wrapped around her favorite partner-in-crime, Specialist Charles Grainer (allegedly her lover and father of her expected child), as they stand tall behind their human pyramid, like giddy tourists at an exotic amusement park, or proud hunters showing off their bagged prey.

Or like early 20th century Americans at a lynching party. Bard College History of Photography Professor Luc Sante finds this comparison most apt: "In photographs that were taken and often printed as postcards in the American heartland in the first four decades of the 20th century, black men are shown hanging from trees or light fixtures or maybe being burned alive, while below them white people are laughing and pointing for the benefit of the camera...

Before seeing such pictures you might expect the faces in them to express some kind of collective rage; instead the mood is giddy, often verging on hysterical, with a distinct sexual undercurrent. Like the lynching crowds, the Americans at Abu Ghraib felt free to parade their triumph and glee not because they were psychopaths but because the thought of censure probably never crossed their minds." Why would they be censured when Big Daddy Bush gave the thumbs-up to "loosening up" the limits after 9-11?
Feminists are quiet about it so far, but Lynndie does prove Right-wing gadfly Ann Coulter's point that women in the military can be "vicious." Of course, Lynndie's friend Chuck proves that men are vicious too. Actually, there are more male than female guards in The Photos; it's just that Lynndie's such a stand-out!

A later release shows Lynndie's serious side. In this now world-famous scene, she plays the haughty mistress glaring contemptuously down at her obstinate dog, as she holds a leash, the collar of which is around the neck of one of her prisoners who lies naked, grimacing, on the floor.

Private Lynndie, Churchgoing Patriot Daughter of Fort Ashby, West Virginia, (town of one stoplight and six churches), Dominatrix to the Sand Demons of Arabie, Middle-Woman to the War Machine. America's most despised young lady right now, Lynndie is the Anti-Lynch, Jessica's shattered mirror image, the smiling face of American Womanhood at War that no one wants to see and that everyone now must face.

Who are you, Lynndie England, how could you do such things, and what will you do now? Mata Hari was a patsy too, my dear. But at least, she had the seductive savoir-faire to blow a kiss to the boys on her firing squad before they gunned her down. Would you? Who knows?

This much, as a sex therapist, I do know: Wealthy American men with submissive fantasies (most of whom are Republican) will pay their mistresses well to "Treat me like dirt, Mistress, treat me like Lynndie treated the Iraqis!" for many years to come.

The Blowjob Photo: Bush's Gay Agenda

Then there's the Blowjob Photo. Former US President Bill Clinton was impeached over a blowjob, but his was consensual. These guys are being forced to simulate fellatio on each other. This appears to be the Bush Way to treat the issue of homosexuality. Let's not let Americans of the same sex have the right to marry; oh no, that would be immoral! Let's have American troops force Iraqis to pretend to blow each other, in order to make them talk, or punish them, or keep them awake, or show them who's "the superior outside force," or to make "good old American pornography," or maybe just because we feel like it.

Staged with an eye for drama and composition, The Blowjob looks like a lot of the American porn that the guards and interrogators were probably ogling on their laptops for inspiration in between torture sessions. In fact, in some ways, Bush's POW Porn is just an extention of the 21st century "Everyone's A Pornographer!" phenomenon. No longer just made by the pros in the San Fernando Valley, porn is now made by every amateur with a digital camera, from librarians in Kansas City to military police in Abu Ghraib, and instantly distributed through the Internet around the world.

Now I'm all for exporting American porn to the Arab World. In fact, I already do that, since The Dr. Susan Block Show (which some call "porn") is on in Israel, where it's translated into Arabic as well as Hebrew (not to mention the fact that anybody can look at my website). I say, hey, if they want porn, we should sell it to them at rock bottom prices, or better yet, give it to them free as a gesture of good will and to "spread American values." But forcing them to act in our porn movies and photo shoots is, to say the least, not good for the business.

Moreover, most of Bush's POW Porn is not just your basic simulated blow-job, but agonizing S/M, otherwise known as torture, and not the fun, consensual kind. In one photo, guards loom ominously over naked prisoners bound together painfully. In another, a naked man, his body contorted with terror, looks at two snarling military dogs ready to attack him (later photographs show that the dogs do bite the man). Then there's the shackled guy, his back in an excruciating arch, with panties on his head. Is this a fetish show or a prison? Or are prisons fetish shows more than we want to know?

The Passion of the President

In what has become the lead photo of the bunch, probably because the prisoner isn't naked, a Christ-like figure with wires hanging from his outstretched hands, and reportedly, from his penis, stands on a small box, told that if he lost his balance and fell off the box, he'd be electrocuted. He resembles a Medieval Mystery Player with his ragged cape, bare feet and death mask hood pointed at the top, like the dunce cap worn by the village idiot or court jester. His plaintive stance seems to say "Why me?" It is eloquent in its acquiescence. The prisoner is helpless indeed, but there is power in his posture; it also says "J'accuse."

It speaks for many of us, in Iraq, in America, in France, in Spain, and all over the world, who would like to say to Mr. Bush: I accuse you, Mr. Bush, along with your collaborators, of lying to us, wiring us up to terror, forcing us into this horrible, humiliating war, while we stand, terrorized, on a box.
It also gives us a glimpse into the sexual nature of the man. Not the man on the box. The man who put the man on the box. Of course, many people put that man on the box, starting with a woman, SPC Sabrina Harman, 372nd MP Company, who set up the box, Then there's Corporal Charles A. Grainer who told her to put the man on the box. Then there's the MI's or CIA guys who told him to "keep detainees awakeand get them to talkgive them a bad night," or "soften them up." Then there are the Generals who run the prisons and run the wars, the Vice President who pushed this particular war, the Defense Secretary who aggressively waged this war, the members of Congress who voted to approve this war, the media people who promoted this war, and the voters who gave it the thumbs-up. But it is the self-described War President that sets the pace, goals and style of the war, especially this war, Bush's War. Thus, my feeling that The Photos give us a glimpse into the perverse heart, bullying soul and pathetic little gonads of Mr. GW Bush.

Am I being too harsh on Dubya in suggesting that these images stem from his personal sexual nature? Perhaps. But I don't think so. Remember, this is the man who giggled and mocked Karla Faye Tucker, his fellow born-again Christian sentenced to die under his jurisdiction. "Please don't kill me," he mimicked in a high girlish voice, pursing his lips and squinting his eyes, seeming to savor the memory of how she'd begged for her life, and, as Governor of Texas, he'd killed her anyway. If we can understand how a U.S. presidential candidate can talk like that in an interview with Talk Magazine, perhaps we can understand why Lynndie and Chuck can grin like that in The Photos.

Remember, this is the American Executioner who, when he was governor of Texas, presided over a record-setting 152 lethal injections. Maybe not as barbaric as lynchings, but you can only push limits so far. This was the son who relished being his dad's "hatchet man," especially when he had the pleasure of axing someone suspected of disloyalty. This is the happy gunslinger that gave the CIA authority to assassinate those deemed a threat to U.S. interests, virtually suspending Executive Orders by Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan prohibiting such assassinations. This is the opportunistic autocrat who used the tragedy of 9-11 to relax the CIA and MI's previous restrictions on using torture, and won't even call the guys he's picking up Prisoners of War. This is the definitive chickenhawk who let other men of his generation fight in Vietnam, then sent men and women of his daughters' generation to invade Iraq. This is the back-slapping bully who celebrated the destruction of a country with a "Mission Accomplished" costume party.

Harry Truman said "the buck stops here." It's not much of a stretch to see how Private Lynndie, Specialist Sabrina and Corporal Chuck might take their Commander-in-Chief as a role model, or perhaps as the ultimate audience of their erotic torture games.

Bush's Sexuality: Bully of the World

Unlike his immediate predecessor, the nature of Bush's sexuality has long been a mystery to us common folk. He's kind of stiff with most women, though he's very close to a few devoted advisors like Condeleeza Rice and Karen Hughes. Does he have affairs? Who knows? If there's one thing he's good at, it's keeping secrets (with the compliant media as his hand-maiden). Wife Laura is sweet, but the fact that she looks like she hasn't had an orgasm since Gulf War I doesn't help. Their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, are quite sexy; that's probably why they're kept hidden as much as possible (that and the anti-war calls to "send the Bush Twins to Iraq!").

Bush's sexuality may be murky. But in terms of sex appeal, he knows how to work it. Or at least, Karl Rove does, acting as a sort of Queer Eye to Bush's Straight Guy. Anti-war folks may have been outraged by the AWOL Guardsman dressing up in a flight suit to land on the U.S.S. Lincoln, but a lot of Republican women (and some men) thought "he looked really hot --especially in the crotch!" Stuffed or not, there's definitely a sexual market for it, along with that Rich Boy smirk and the Cowboy swagger, at least in America. Then there's the determination. Dubya's responses to "terrorism" strike me as being rather impotent (Afghanistan is still a mess, Iraq is worse and Osama is alive and still producing his own series of hit tapes). Yet I must admit that there are many ladies who swoon over that manly "resolve."


And men. Bush is a man's man. He seems most relaxed with the guys, the majority of whom he charms easily. His nicknames are part of his chummy, frat boy, pecking-order-oriented playfulness, as if to say, "Alpha male to Beta, here's your new name." Most men seem to eat this up. 9-11 commissioner Jim Thompson affectionately called Bush a "bit of a tease" (tee-hee) after their discreet unrecorded meeting with Dick in the Oval Office. Bush and Dick (what a sexy combo!) seem to have seduced the whole bunch of star-struck commissioners in that ultra-private tête-à-tête. Even normally aggressive Democratic questioner Richard Ben-Veniste gushed that the meeting was "very cordial." What did Dubya do with these guys behind close doors-make them form naked pyramids?

Role-playing is Dubya's forté. He could have been an actor. He does have trouble memorizing and enunciating stuff, but even his slow-wittedness can be disarming. Disarmament of the victim is key to the pleasure of the sadist. Of course, just because someone is charming doesn't mean he or she is sadistic, not at all. But the most effective sadists-Hitler, Stalin, the Marquis de Sade-are said to be quite charming, especially in private, social situations.

Bush (like the others) isn't so charming on the stump, where he shows his self-righteous side. He rants against Evil-Doers, drones on about the sanctity of marriage, touts abstinence as the answer to each and every sex question, rains all over the gay parade and blocks women's reproductive rights at every turn. The assault on women began on Bush's first full day in office with his reinstatement of the Reagan-era global "gag rule." He may as well have thrown a hood over the head of international family planning. Then he picked one of the stuffiest Americans since Anthony Comstock, Ayatollah Asscraft, as his top lawyer; that ought to tell us something.

Yet nobody believes Bush is as prissy as his policies and pronouncements. There seems to be something simmering just beneath the surface of all that oppressive earnestness, something deeply, wickedly kinky, though still kind of corny, something like what we see in The Photos.

Something like a sadist. Or maybe the classic label of "bully" is most apt. Isn't the torturer just a more sophisticated incarnation of the bully? Back in the summer of 2002, when GI-George was beating the drums of war on Iraq, I wrote a little piece called "Cockfight at the Baghdad Corral" comparing our proposed attack on Iraq to "a cold, crude assault by a tactless brute who couldn't get laid any other way, an oaf who can't or won't seduce his target with negotiatory words and gestures, but forces his way in, with no lube and no manners." I was worried that "all the global sympathy we stirred up when our great phallic edifices (Dick 1 & Dick 2) were castrated by the Terrorist's fiery sword are fading into resentment, fear and ridicule of America, dick-swinging, bomb-tossing Bully of the World."

And now we have The Photos showing us Bullies of the World on the Job. I must admit I didn't know how literally we'd be swinging our dicks like baboons (certainly not like bonobos who could teach us a thing or two about sex and violence).

Rape of Iraq

Bush's pronouncements, pleading, apologies and demands since the release of The Photos, are also telling. Indignant as an dissatisfied customer in a bad restaurant, he first complained, "I didn't like it one bit.'' Send it back to the chef! But wait, does that mean that he did "like" all the other atrocities our military, under his command, has committed? Or perhaps he prefers the British method of handling their Iraqi prisoners, as shown in another set of photos: Knocking out their teeth and urinating on them. Hey, you've heard the Brits go in for golden showers, haven't you? Then a spank and a wank, and throw the half-dead loser out of the truck. Well, what of it? This is war, isn't it? Bush's War and Bush's Porn, with Poodle Tony Blair doing a bang-up job on U.K. production and distribution.

Clinton had his (semen) "stain" upon the Presidency. Now Dubya has his. It's also a semen stain, but it's mixed with blood and puke and tears. "It's a stain on our country's honor and our country's reputation, I fully understand that," the Stainmaker-in-Chief declared in his most groveling attempt to make it go away. But like Lady "out-damn-spot." MacBeth, the stain-and the shame--remain.

And oh, the shame! The exposure! The bad timing. Just a week before the release of The Photos, Bush had proclaimed that as a result of getting rid of Saddam, "there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq." Another practical joke. As Jon Stewart succinctly put it, Iraq's rape rooms are "really not shut down so much as under new management."

Of course, as those of you who know me know, I take this kind of personally. When I wrote "Rape of Iraq" back in April, 2003, I was using "rape" as a metaphor for the invasion. Prevaricators on the left and right tried to say I was accusing American soldiers of raping Iraqis. I wasn't, at the time. But now it's pretty clear that not only has Bush's War raped Iraqi as a country, but Bush's Warriors have raped Iraqis as individuals, some in the very rape rooms belonging to that so-called Supreme Rapist Saddam. Not that Saddam hung around his own rape rooms any more than Bush hangs around his (too dangerous!). Since we called Saddam a Rapist Butcher, it's only fitting that we call Bush a POW Pornographer and The King of Torture-Lite, American-style.

Prisons-Are-Us, American-Style

Which brings me to another of Bush's desperate pronouncements in the wake of the release of The Photos, accompanied by the damning Taguba Report. His ongoing efforts to impress upon the world that his POW Porn is somehow "not American." So Lynndie and Chuck are Bulgarian?

"Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people," Bush tried to spin like a dervish when The Photos were first unleashed. "That's not the way we do things in America," he said. Later he clarified on Al-Hurrah TV, "What took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know."

Of course, it's not the America Dubya knew. That's because even though he did things that would have landed other guys in the can, Poppy's friends bailed him out before he had to spend any real time in an American prison.

UnCurious George also seems to have never heard of Rodney King, beaten by LAPD on tape, or Abner Louima, sodomized with the business end of a toilet plunger during an NYPD interrogation. Since the Shrub is a proud non-reader, he wouldn't know that according to U.S. corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates, the physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what's in The Photos, takes place in American prisons every day. This is "the way" some people "do things" at many prisons in America, minus the cameras (so far). Bush should know, since he was governor of Texas, said to have some of the worst, most abusive prisons on Earth. But the only state he seems to govern with any skill is the state of Denial.

Here in LA, we have our own Twin Towers, also known as the Downtown Men's Prison. As everyone knows who's been through there, when you first get booked, they treat you with "sleep deprivation," providing no place to sit or lie down except an icy floor, giving you nothing to eat but rotten baloney on stale bread, and not letting you go to the toilet, in hopes that you'll break quickly and cop a plea. As for beatings and rapes, the guards usually get--or just let--other prisoners take care of that.

If you ask too many questions, they put you in the "Suicide Ward," which has nothing to do with being suicidal; it's just a euphemism for torture. Here, they take away essentials such as clothes and eyeglasses with the laughable excuse that you could use these things to kill yourself. Then they make you stand naked in front of guards and other inmates for hours in the cold. When I visited an inmate in the Twin Towers "Suicide Ward," I was astonished to see all the prisoners wearing nothing but these bizarre blue asbestos cloaks supposedly fastened with Velcro. But the Velcro was worn and couldn't fasten at all, so the cloaks kept falling apart. In other words, all these prisoners were naked in front of us visitors. And hey, this wasn't even in Texas.

Military Intelligence, CIA, mercenaries working for CACI International, and maybe Wolfie and Rummy themselves seem to have directed torture like we see in the Abu Ghraib Photos. But the practices are, for the most part, an extension of the American prison system. Lane McCotter, a contractor who had resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled naked to a restraining chair for 16 hours, was chosen by the Bushies to rebuild Abu Ghraib and train the guards there.

One of the soldiers in The Photos (a segment producer for Bush's POW Porn), Staff Sgt. Ivan (Chip) Frederick, had worked for six years as a guard for the Virginia Department of Corrections, and was described by his warden as "one of the best." Scott Bobeck, a special agent in the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division, testified that Sgt. Frederick and Corporal Grainer "were put in charge because they were civilian prison guards and had knowledge of how things were supposed to be run." That knowledge came from working in a U.S. prison system that now cages over two million Americans.

Part of the problem is the nature of prison. As psychological studies at Stanford and Yale have shown, when normal, compassionate people are given the job of "prison guard" and told by authorities to enforce discipline or administer punishment, their overwhelming tendency is to become sadistic and abusive. Of course, this natural prison guard sadism can be checked with supervision. The danger of abuse rises with severe overcrowding, a problem in America, as well as in Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan and Guantanamo) where thousands of people who shouldn't be imprisoned are.

But Bush doesn't care about problems like this, just as he hasn't cared about the mulitiple reports of abuse and torture from the Red Cross and other groups that have been crossing his desk for years. Now he cares. He's been caught! He's just "sickened" that the world has seen his secret stash of porn.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Ultimately, he was forced to mouth the words "I'm sorry," though he said them to a fellow King, Jordan's Abdullah II, not to his main victims, the Iraqi people, nor to his other victims, the American people (whom he should apologize to for turning our sons, daughters, parents and neighbors into sadistic bullies like him). And sticking to form, his so-called apology actually blames the viewers of The Photos themselves.

Sadists love to say, 'I'm sorry to hurt you, but it's really your fault." Bush said he told the King, "I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was as equally sorry that people seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America."

The first line is okay. Even though he doesn't say who did the humiliating of the Iraqi prisoners and their families (um, Americans?), at least he says he's sorry about it. But then he cancels out his apology by blaming these very people--as well as all of us who see The Photos--for believing our eyes and not his words.

"I am sickened by what I saw and sickened that people got the wrong impression," he goes on, again saying that we are "wrong" to get the "impression" that The Photos give us. Earlier, in his interview with Al-Hurrah, he kept repeating that the Iraqi people "must understand" that what we see in The Photos isn't really "America." Then, for a kicker, at the end of the interview, he had the temerity to say to the interviewer, "Good job." As if we needed to be reminded that Al-Hurrah is the American Iraqi station.

The arrogance, the patronizing tone, infantile insistence that everyone see things his way, is breathtaking. Some diehard submissives do find this kind of brute domination sexy-at least in fantasy. Okay, but do we really want it for President?

Coming Attractions: More & Worse!

We shall see what we want, based on what we're willing to accept. Bush's POW Porn has some sequels. There's more to come, including rapes of women and children. And we also have the court martials of the six soldiers featured in The Photos. After which, the more ambitious of the bunch will get their book contracts (though they won't be allowed to make any money from committing felonies, will they?). And there will surely be more admonishments, reprimands and dismissals to various disposable cogs in the wheels of the Bush War Machine. But the Executive Producer has made clear that his main POW Porn Production Team stays, including Line Producer Master Rummy who is doing a "superb" job. Disgusting, but superb.

The official nominally in charge of Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski (who said, "I'd like to know who was the one that was giving instructions to the military intelligence personnel to turn up the heat"), has been canned. The new Big Cheese at Abu Ghraib is Major General Geoffrey Miller, most recently in charge of the draconian detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.

Miller's considered competent because, though tales of torture similar to Abu Ghraib flow constantly out of Guantánamo, the S/M Porn Photos that have emerged from there are soft-core compared to The Abu Ghraib Collection. Miller might even go farther with the torture than Karpinski who acts like she was the one wearing the hood at her own prisons. The Taguba Report quotes Miller, after inspecting Abu Ghraib, as saying that it was ''essential that the guard force be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees.'' So, stack those pyramids high, kids!

The Power of Perversion

Most of the main players are staying or just switching locations, and will continue to do what they were doing, only without the digital cameras. That's one big change at Abu Ghraib, the signs that say "No Cameras Allowed." And herein lies the crux of the "disgust." It's not with the torture, it's with The Photos of the torture.

Those of us who want the truth of Bush's War and every war can only be grateful for The Photos and for the photographers. Whether they were brave or stupid or "just doing their job," they gave us riveting evidence of something the Bushies would like to keep secret. We can only laugh and weep that, after the release of The Photos the first new rule is "No Cameras Allowed."

So no more photos, and maybe no more hoods and a few more clothes. Or maybe not. But the sickness that we see in The Photos is only the tip of an iceberg. The iceberg is the war. And it is melting down into a mess we can never clean up.

Well, at least, The Photos got the Shrub to give a simulated apology, which is more than he's done yet through this whole war. That's the power of perversion, specifically sexual perversion. Bush has never apologized for the invasion or the occupation. He has never apologized for all the lies, the bombings, the wholesale murder of thousands of Iraqis (which we don't bother to count), the senseless deaths of hundreds of Americans, the virtual destruction of a country, it's libraries, his art museums, it's hospitals, it's schools. But he does apologize for The Photos. He has to. Because his stash was found, his pants are down, way down around his ankles, and all the world can see what a sadistic little bully he is.

But it's not only Bush, and it's not only Dick. It's not only Rummy and Lynndie and the guys in MI. It's not only Fox TV. All Americans are engaged in playing the bully game. Some of us have been "forced" into this painful position. But as much as Bush says Iraqis "must understand" that The Photos are "not America," what they show is incontrovertible: average Americans being bullies. Which means it's more imperative than ever that we all do whatever we can-whether we're soldiers, spies, doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, writers, webmasters, sex therapists, schoolteachers, secretaries, pornographers or presidential candidates--to stop the war, and the abuse that goes with it, now.

As I write this, my email box is filling up with links to the latest atrocity caught on tape. This time it is an Al-Qaeda-produced snuff film showing the gruesome beheading of young Nick Berg from my hometown Philadelphia. The way that the killers call their murder retribution for the Abu Ghraib abuses painfully recalls the vengeful killing of David Pearl (another Jewish American civilian) in Pakistan shortly after the abusive treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo became public. Some in the pro-war crowd in America are actually emboldened by Berg's murder, now screaming that it somehow justifies American torture. U.S. Senators are using it as an excuse to censor the latest set of pictures which might "incite" more violence.

We may see some of them anyway. The speed with which The Photos and video from the Iraqi Front appear on our TVs and computers rattles the synapses. Now, any amateur can take a photo, any bully can make porn and any murderer can make a snuff film viewed by millions within moments. Will the digital technology that made Bush's POW Porn the huge hit that it is make this horrific human violence escalate or shock us enough to stop it?

It's up to us. We are America.

Dr. Susan Block is a sex educator, cultural commentator, host of The Dr. Susan Block Show and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her website at http://www.drsusanblock.com

Send all hate mail, love letters, commentary, questions and confessions to her at liberties(at)blockbooks.com


 


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