Lessons in Amerikan Euphemism.
THE LIE: “America doesn’t torture.”
THE PLOT: CIA authorizes kidnapping and torture of a suspected terrorist in a misguided attempt to thwart further terrorism.
THE EUPHEMISM: “extraordinary rendition.”
THE TRUTH: America DOES torture.
All my life I’ve regarded the word “rendition” to mean “the act of rendering.” So how the hell does it come to mean the unlawful impulsive capture and detaining of suspected enemies of Amerika? The Free Online Dictionary and Merriam-Webster define “rendition” not only as all those things we know it means, but also as “a surrender,” which is probably the closest thing to the criminally insane actions of the U.S. government.
In the movie RENDITION (written by Kelley Sane, directed by Gavin Hood), we learn that the Clinton administration first coined the euphemism “extraordinary rendition” to describe Amerikan government-endorsed kidnapping which violates Constitutional law, Geneva Conventions and any and all host country laws regarding detaining suspects. “Host country” is itself a euphemism for the colluders who allow extra-legal disposition of their citizens without batting an eye; allowing Amerika to kidnap their countryfolk without question, in order to continue receiving billions in blood-soaked Amerikan aid. And “extra-legal” is a euphemism which simply means illegal.
The movie’s s premise is so much more significant than its entertainment value. Like a blunt shiv spreading Amerika’s ribcage, RENDITION enters above the left lung and twists… revealing the Bush-Cheney administration’s black heart and blacker soul. Make no mistake, if it were not for George W. and Richard B., their contempt for the American Constitution, their unconscionable vampire-grasping at executive power and their utter disregard for human rights, the premise of this movie could never have been fleshed out.To technically absolve itself of breaking international law, the U.S. government outsources its torture – like toys from China or customer service from India. Guantanamo Bay – torture facility to the stars of terrorism – has been classified “not on U.S. soil,” therefore the juvenile criminals in power cheerfully proclaim they’re not lying when they specify “America does not torture.” In RENDITION, South Africa waterboards America’s dirty laundry.
Egyptian-American chemical engineer, Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), returning from a conference in South Africa, is kidnapped by the CIA in Cape Town, thrown in a dungeon and undergoes “enhanced interrogation” (euphemism for torture), simply because he received calls on his cell phone from a “known terrorist” (which is not even a euphemism – matter of fact, no one can specify exactly what “known terrorist” actually means, because if El-Ibrahimi is, in fact, innocent – after all the failed and forced intel points to his “guilt” – how can anyone be “known” to be anything?). El-Ibrahimi is an American citizen; you know, the land of the free, inalienable human rights… all that shit… but the Bush Klan have ensured that government power can now negate lawyers, rights, charges, evidence, guilt, and due process. Anyone – American citizen or otherwise – can be held indefinitely merely on the word of two lunatics: Bush and Cheney.
El-Ibrahimi’s pregnant American wife, Isabella (Reese Witherspoon), awaits his arrival in Chicago, stonewalled by authorities on his disappearance. She turns to a Senatorial aide, Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), who initially tries to help locate her husband, but backs away when his Senator (Alan Arkin, in a departure from Mr. Nice Guy mode) warns him of the political suicide in pursuing the case.
Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young CIA analyst, assigned to “observe” the torture master’s techniques on El-Ibrahimi, but – unlike the pariah dogs Bush and Cheney – finds his humanity getting in the way. In an impassioned phone call to his superior officer, Whitman (Meryl Streep), he almost apologizes for his humane-ness, “This is my first torture,” to which Whitman retorts with that now-infamous, disingenuous Amerikan lie (without skipping a beat over breakfast), “The United States does not torture,” adding the unproveable mantra as her rationale, “it saves lives.” (The mantra gives the torturers away. Why rationalize something that you maintain is not being done at all, or that is not being done by YOU? Same as saying, “No one’s being tortured – but torturing these people saves other people’s lives.”)
And the only “evidence” for “saving lives” is the government’s propaganda assessment of life-saving scenarios – such as the March 2002 torture of Abu Zubaydah (a low-rung travel agent for al Qaeda, breathlessly reported to the American public as “a top operative,” who, by the CIA’s own later admission, was never privy to secret Qaeda operational details), which yielded “confessions” that al Qaeda aimed to bomb shopping malls, banks and supermarkets; confessions through beating, waterboarding, sleep-deprivation and coercing false statements from him. Even leaving out the fact that the information is tainted, misleading and asinine (sure, “Allah came to him in his cell and told him to confess”), even if you had no moral compunctions about the methods, you must follow international law that you yourself ratified. Or incur the punitive consequences. No matter which way you look at it… the Bush Klan is exactly what they accuse “the terrorists” of being – pure evil.
El-Ibrahimi implores: “Tell me what to say and I’ll say it.” Freeman later quotes Shakespeare, in trying to influence a government official to release El-Ibrahimi: “I fear you speak upon the rack / Where men enforced do speak anything” (The Merchant of Venice), adding, “If you torture one, you create 10, 100, 1000 new enemies.” This is now self-evident – yet no one raises a hand to stop the Bush-Cheney Klan.
The movie has an implausible upbeat ending and a much more compelling downbeat one, in two intertwining storylines that do not become apparently linked until the last few minutes. Upbeat has Freeman surreptitiously freeing El-Ibrahimi. Downbeat involves two South African (yet vaguely Arab) teenagers who are affected fatally by the boy’s religious fanaticism.
Could a “suspected terrorist” be sneaked out as easily as El-Ibrahimi? Wouldn’t the release of someone who is supposedly “too dangerous to be allowed an attorney” be the most contradictory thing any government could possibly do after declaring him that dangerous? It would admit their fault; their defeat would be humiliating. So there is realistically no end to torturing a suspect. When will there ever be enough information gleaned from the victim to justify sending him home with a fruit basket? In the end, torture becomes so passé in the fabric of military process, that from the president to the lowest grunt, everyone convinces themselves they are being “moral” for “saving lives” by employing it.
I can’t wait for Amerikan troops to be captured by ANY enemy and interrogated in the EXACT SAME WAY the Bush Klan authorized “enhanced interrogations” on others. We wil hear the shrieks of outrage from the highest corridors of power to the emptiest vessels on the airwaves…
El-Ibrahimi was spirited out as covertly as he was kidnapped, by a person who was convinced of his innocence, so there was no contradiction in the movie – but in the real life case of Yaser Esam Hamdi (captured in Afghanistan in 2001), it was the government who declared this “illegal enemy combatant” “affiliated with a Taliban military unit” (on the paranoid word of a bureaucrat imbecile named Michael Mobbs – whose title is as stupid as it is meaningless: Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), and so dangerous as to be held for three years without charges or a lawyer; suddenly in 2004 glibly declaring him “not dangerous” after the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and declared his confinement illegal. You see, Hamdi was embarrassingly discovered to be a U.S. citizen, and first taken out of Guantanamo, then after years of transferals to other prisons with no charges and no trial, was forced to be set free. As Slate reported, “…Hamdi will be on a government jet, flying home to Saudi Arabia with an invisible “whoops” note pinned to his lapel… Did Hamdi spontaneously stop being dangerous? Or was he never really a danger in the first place?”
El-Ibrahimi’s experience, one would think, should have turned him into a raging anti-government dervish – no more voting, no more taxes; no more patriotism; his second baby born without him present; his wife Isabella enduring the mental trauma of death certificates, FBI, CIA, bills, mortgage, medical, funeral costs – but none of that is addressed. Whereas his legal proceedings against the government should have begun in earnest, the movie instead leaves us after his homecoming group hug.
And what’s to stop the CIA from beating down his door and picking him up again from his American home? (With the added bonus of gunning down his family and making it look like a robbery.) He was squirreled out against orders, so if they leave him alone, that would be an admission they were wrong about his “threat” level. Unless the Supreme court steps in, the CIA are not programmed to relent in their “War on Terror” so they’re going after him, all right. Considering it logically, it’s not really an upbeat ending.
It was also far-fetched for Isabella to get so close to Whitman to actually complain in person. All Amerikan officials authorizing torture are insulated by countless layers of gonzo buffers. That’s how this war-criminal president stays so clean. Transparently mendacious, but clean. These torturing maniacs are SO GUTLESS that they WEAR MASKS to work. Why do you think the CIA destroyed those torture tapes, video showing them wearing MASKS to “interrogate” suspects? Because they KNOW it’s illegal. That’s why they wore masks in the first place. Why do you think Michael Mukasey – the Bush-appointee who should supposedly have a handle on “justice” – is too spineless to even mention the word torture, let alone define it? These people wear MASKS (metaphysical or literal) to their day jobs. What kind of subhumans are they? Just how “dishonest” has the inherently dishonest institution of government actually become? There is NOTHING they say that seems like a shred of truth any more. Whenever White House Press Secretary Dana Perino or White House Douchebag George W. Bush open their mouths, all that spews out is TRASH, BUNK, LIES…
Streep gives the bravest performance in her exceptional acting career – how else to describe a role that would automatically make audiences revile you as the slimiest lowlife scum to ever walk the Earth (besides W.)? Yet she is outdone in a stellar, nuanced performance by Yigal Naor (as the master torturer, Abasi), whose principles are simultaneously difficult to observe (on torture: “The work we do is sacred”), cheekily chauvinist (“Beat your woman every day. If you don’t know why – she does”) and sympathetic (his undying concern for his daughter).
It is Abasi’s tale that provides the tragic ending with “religious extremists,” to balance the American who is set free. Once again, provincialism dictates Amerikan storytelling: who really cares ‘bout dem olive-skinned fanatics, right?
Euphemisms come so thick pertaining to U.S. government policy that we can hardly keep track of the lies – which is exactly how the Amerikan government confuses its country, in bombarding its people with so much euphemism that the people throw their hands up and just roll with the newspeak instead of trying to decipher the mountain of steaming bulldung. The press secretaries have even commandeered a euphemism for “trying to decipher their bulldung” – parsing.
A word that the public don’t even regard as a euphemism is one of the most dangerous deflections of the last 60 years: “Intelligence” – as in Central Intelligence Agency (established 1947). “Intelligence” gathering is now merely an Amerikan euphemism for paranoia and disinformation. It’s never really about “intelligence,” is it? Not when all they’re doing is covertly assassinating world leaders, fabricating scenarios to fit political engineering, or reporting disinformation which the administration spins to its advantage or ignores arbitrarily… In late 2007, the CIA reveals to the press that they informed Bush in 2003 that Iran was not a nuclear threat – after six months of Bush weedily claiming on national TV that the CIA told him Iran was a nuclear threat.
Gee thanks, idiots!
Isn’t it time to choke off funding to this useless black hole of STUPIDITY and funnel it instead to forums that really create “intelligence” – schools, teachers and science? Ron Paul is absolutely right in calling for the CIA’s abolishment.
It is surprising that critics would rail against this movie as simple and cliché; though in no way a classic, or a quintessential coverage of its topic, it brutally brings to light the very real paranoia and pain-mongering of the American government, against anyone who looks sideways at their insanities.
In 2002, a Libyan trainer for al Qaeda was captured, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. His interrogators (euphemism for torturers) believed he had knowledge of Qaeda involvement with Saddam, so tortured him until he simply told them what they wanted to hear, at which point the “intelligence” was relayed to Washington and became the basis of the duplicitous Bush-Cheney claim that Saddam sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Stupidity like this is REALLY happening in the world of “intelligent humans.”
In May 2002, U.S. citizen Jose Padilla was arrested at Chicago airport and held for years without a lawyer and tortured until then-Attorney General, the unscrupulous devil John Ashcroft, announced that Padilla had supplied information to thwart a “dirty bomb” detonation. The only thing “thwarted” was actual justice.
(All these cases are detailed in the book Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency by Charlie Savage, 2007.)
I am overjoyed that this movie stomps out loud what so much media has been tiptoeing around – that the United States openly advocates torture of not just “suspected terrorists” but its own citizens. On its own soil. Though Bush signed the John McCain Torture Ban in 2005 (which disallowed U.S. military to engage in torture), he then negated it with one of his infamous pushing-the-boundaries-of-legal Signing Statements, saying that he didn’t have to adhere to it because of his inherent executive powers!
The American people – and world powers associated with America’s insane foreign policies – should be scared to death that RENDITION exists. Anyone claiming to be a “proud American” (which may now be a euphemism for sadistic redneck ‘tard) should be scared to death that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney exist, and on whose word alone “enemy combatants” are identified, kidnapped and tortured. For no reason.
This Could Be You.
But hang on, White House assholes!! If the government is monitoring all calls from the Middle East – what about those vermin within the Bush administration who daily deal with the Middle East on a business basis? What about Bush’s communiqués with Bandar Bush? Or Cheney’s with King Saud? Are those calls monitored? For it is THOSE VERY CALLS that are the root of the terrorism against Amerika, when disagreements fester over the politics of oil; the calls going into THE WHITE HOUSE ITSELF should be monitored most closely because the political wrangling on those phone conversations is what trickles down to democracy-hugging grunts and allah-stroking “fanatics” fighting each other on the word of their stupid leaders who can’t come to any reasonable agreement on anything…
THE LIE: “They” attacked us.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STROKE: Amerika retaliates “for democracy.”
THE TRUTH: “Amerikan Government” has itself become a euphemism for terrorists, and the end of 2008 will bring about the most-needed “extraordinary rendition” – the ousting of George W. Bush.