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Witches and Terrorists

A few years back in a bookstore I ran across a volume called Malleus Mallificum or Hammer against Evil (roughly translated). This book was the infamous medieval witch-hunting manual which advised the witch-hunter that when he had his suspected witch safe and sound in his dungeon, he should show the suspected witch all the instruments of torture and then explain how each and everyone of them is used. Then the witch hunter should simply wait for the confession to come spilling out, which the book advised was just about all that was ever required.

I believe it. I don't know about you, but after that little lecture by a robed and hooded inquisitor, I'd be howling for a pen and paper so I could write down for them exactly how bad a witch I was. Because you know what? One way or another I would know I was done for and I would want to save myself whatever suffering I could until my inevitable fate.

The United States, it seems, has been getting away from the idea that torture is wrong and horrible in all circumstances. The CIA has - allegedly - been running their own franchise of torture chambers in different countries that aren't so finicky about cruel and unusual punishment as the United States used to be. 'No! Not the CIA!', you say. Well, I'd hate to think it could be true, because it's just so, so unlike that organization but the evidence is kind of mounting up.

Are we all 'shocked ... shocked!' to discover this? I guess I have a little more reason to believe that the CIA would actually do this. You see, a relative of mine once worked for them. Please, don't worry, I'm not going to out him like Valerie Plame, and even if I were, he's long since been out of their employ (he claims. But I'm not so certain). Anyways, he left their gentle loving arms because of unspecified 'moral' problems and that was all he would ever say about it. We can probably guess what some of those moral problems might have been especially knowing where he was when he had these moral problems - in the Mideast, working for one of the many despotic tyrants we used to bankroll back in the day.

The victims of the new CIA torture chambers are not witches, but terrorists, they say. Few people really have much sympathy for terrorists and I have to admit that I'm one of them. Torture is wrong, but my sleep is not so troubled if some of these awful men experience some discomfort before they're rewarded with seventy two virgins in paradise for their deeds.

The problem is that they aren't really terrorists, but rather they are 'accused' terrorists. They have not had any public trials in front of a judge and a jury of their peers with a defense council, you know, all that sixth amendment stuff. Nor have any of them even had a secret military tribunal, either. They've just been spirited away in the middle of the night and who knows what happens to them, then?

Like we used to do with witches. The Bible says we should not suffer a Witch to live and do we really want these minions of Satan in our midst? What rights should Witches really have? All of our souls are at risk and I think extraordinary measures are thoroughly justified to get rid of them - just like 'accused' terrorists.

Secret CIA prisons for suspected terrorists are one thing, but has everybody forgotten that we already have a thoroughly out in the open prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? On Meet the Press one Sunday there was an evil Republican senator who was defending the 'detention facility' in Cuba. His ploy was to read off the menu at Guantonamo for a particular Sunday to show how well the terrorists were being fed, and this bozo even exclaimed in astonishment that they were getting... rice pilaf! Tim Russert, the moderator of the show, asked a very pointed question about due process and the evil Republican went back to the Guantano menu and read off next Sunday's entree ... glazed chicken!

Well, case closed. If these guys are getting rice pilaf and glazed chicken, then screw anybody who complains that some of them have been held incommunicado for three years without any legal process.

What a bunch of whiney cry babies!

Russert asked Evil Senator about some of the interrogation techniques that were documented at Guantanamo and he listed: Sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, stress positions, being stripped and forced to stand naked, the use of dogs to terrorize them, having women violate their personal space, Christina Aguillara music. E.S. (Evil Senator) responded by not responding and told Russert how every cell has an arrow that points to Mecca and we scrupulously have the call to prayer for them five times a day. Russert asked again about the use of the guard dogs for one particular suspected terrorist and E.S. sneered: "oh.. he had a dog bark at thim." Um, it was probably a little more than that, Senator.

The problem with getting any sympathy for these people is that, first of all they're thought to be terrorists - bad, bad people - and second the interrogation techniques are what are called 'psychological' and they don't sound all that bad. Until you've had them done to you, that is, and how many people really have? (I have and so have a handful or military people of my aquaintance).

Just like the inquisitor from the middle ages they haven't physically done much of anything to you. There certainly isn't drastic tissue damage and that's really what torture is, isn't it? None of it's allowed by the Geneva Convention, of course, but the Geneva Convention outlines rules for the fair treatment of prisoners who are signatories of the convention, as we define them. The Red Cross and Amnesty International beg to differ, but who are they? They don't have any armies.

Now, the one about a female interrogator violating my personal space, I've got to confess: That one sounds like it might not be so bad, and when you throw in that Christina Aguillara music they talked about, that's basically a lap dance. Terrorists getting lap dances doesn't sound so awful to me. The thing is: I'm an American and it's different for a Muslim male. The equivelant for me might be a technique that I heard from an Army guy who was enrolled in military interrogation school in Texas. This guy told me that one of the techniques they taught him was to have your subject hand cuffed to a chair and then you, the interrogator, come in and start grilling the subject while you're butt ass naked. American men are very homo-phobic and this one tends to freak them out a lot.

You know, these guys in Cuba have been there for years and there's little of intelligence value they could still provide. If they're terrorists, then prove it. It's as simple as that. They should have their day in court just like every single horrible murderer here in the United States.

I guarantee you that we are right now holding innocent men prisonerand have been for years. For example, one of the people that they actually did let go (after holding him for two years) was one hundred and four years old. I don't know if I feel all that safe with this guy back out on the street, probably committing terrorists acts or something.

If you think it's alright for us to hold people who are simply accused of terrorism then I know one more accused terrorist that needs to go to Cuba. You! That's right. I think you're a terrorist. Now that you are an accused terrorist, like all those men that we're holding overseas, you should be more than happy to give up all of your civil liberties and be held in solitary confinement for an indefinite period. But please don't worry. They'll give you glazed chicken and rice pilaf and you'll have an arrow in your cell that points to Mecca so you'll know where to pray to five times a day. Hell, the US government will probably even throw in a free complimentary copy of the Koran.

Or maybe you'd prefer to be charged with witchcraft.

It's up to you.

About the Author: Steve Sommers is the author of Breakfast with the Antichrist. His new novel, Rexroi, along with the best of Australian Science Fiction - is available as an ebook at, OR if you ABSOLUTELY need to turn pages when you read - at

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