Sunday funnies

by Glenn McCoy of

cartoon 4-6 glenn mccoy hunchback larger.gif

[HT: reader WMO]

And this one just for laughs, by Glenn Foden at

cartoon 4-6 foden barney frank.jpg


Sunday Quote:

"Do horses run on rocks? Does a farmer plow the sea with oxen?

But that’s how foolish you are when you turn justice into something deadly and what is righteous into poison.

~ Amos 6:12, God’s Word and New Living translations"

Do Catholic Priests in any way, shape or form, give pro-aborts a voice?

Do doctors kill unborn children?

Are Christians ever pro-choice?

Posted by: HisMan at April 5, 2009 10:49 AM

The first cartoon is not quite right.

FJ is kissing the wrong part of PBHO's anatomy.

FJ should be placing his well practiced and puckered labia squarely on PBHO's gluteus maximus.

And/or FJ could kiss PBHO's ring.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:07 AM

Or as prefferable alternative, FJ, as long as he is already bent over backwards, could kiss his own gluteus maximus 'ba bye'.

Oh, one minor detail.

Before FJ's labia make contact with PBHO's glutes, he shoud ensure that his labia are cermonially clean.

FJ would not want to desecrate the holy temple of PBHO's body.

It could be harmful to PBHO's aura, and mere mortal that FJ is, there could be mortal consequences for him.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:16 AM

I need to learn some more political names. If it weren't for the fact that politicians irritate me, I would know who Barney Frank and John Jenkins are. Who are they?

Posted by: Vannah at April 5, 2009 11:22 AM

Hi Vannah. Father John Jenkins is the president of Notre Dame who invited Pres Obama to speak at commencement. Don't know whether it's true, but I read recently that invitations were sent to both McCain and Obama last fall for the winner to speak at this year's graduation.

As for Barney Frank, I haven't the energy to go there.

Posted by: Fed Up at April 5, 2009 11:45 AM

Barney Frank is a Democrat U.S. Congressman from Massachussetts. Chariman of House Banking/Finance Committee. Proudly and self avowedly a male homosexual, but first and foremost an ultra liberal humanist.

FJ is Father John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame University. A 'Catholic' institution of higher learning also known as the 'Fighting Irish' which is what they are doing now as a result of FJ inviting PBHO to speak at ND commencement exercises and confering on PBHO an honorary law degree.

It seems some catholics actually take the teachings of the church serioulsy concerning the life issue and church prohibitions about honoring people who are advocates of policies that contravene the church teachings.

Short hand: PBHO abortion advocate vs prolife catholics.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:46 AM

Short hand: PBHO abortion advocate vs prolife catholics.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:46 AM


Obama voting and abortion advocate catholics vs prolife catholics.

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:51 AM

Imagine what would happen if conservative pro-life catholic Phyllis Schlaffly were invited to speak at a bastion of liberal feminism, like say Brown University.

Well, hey. You do not have to imagine. Here is the response from the tolerant, openminded, intellectuals on the left:

By a vote of 30 to 0, with 2 abstentions, the faculty of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, express our dismay, displeasure and disappointment that the University would choose to honor Phyllis Schlafly with an honorary degree. Ms. Schlafly not only has a long history of speaking out against the rights of women in modern society, but her speeches and writings regularly mischaracterize domestic violence protections, social services for children, and vaccinations for children. She routinely disparages whole groups of people, such as American Indians, college professors and gays and lesbians. Universities are places where people are invited to voice opinions across the political spectrum. While we encourage dialogue on our campus that includes a wide variety of opinions, presenting an honorary doctorate to this particular person sends the wrong message to our current and graduating students, prospective students, staff and faculty about our expectations for thoughtful and informed discourse and the role of women at Washington University. For the good of the University, we encourage Chancellor Wrighton and Board of Trustees Chairman Kemper to rescind the offer of an honorary degree to Ms. Schlafly and to review the selection process that led to this embarrassing and counterproductive action.


Well there you have it.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:57 AM

Barney Frank was also deeply involved with Fannie/Freddie and assured congress that everything was peachy when repubilcans tried to tell everyone that the regulators had found big problems a couple of years ago.

Posted by: Lauren at April 5, 2009 12:09 PM

I don't get the second cartoon. I know who Barney Frank is and the story behind the comic, I just don't understand it or why it is funny. Can anyone explain the humor in it?

I do understand the first one, though, and think it is pretty spot-on!

Posted by: Bee at April 5, 2009 12:18 PM

Bee, Barney Frank accused someone (sorry, I can't remember who right off the top of my head) of being a homophobe today. Oh wait, I remember, it was Scalia? Maybe not of the Supreme Court jutices though!

Anyways, it was a really petty remark that made little sense. I think the idea is that Barney Frank has taken to calling anyone who disagrees with him on any issue a "homophobe."

Posted by: Lauren at April 5, 2009 12:23 PM


Yes, I'm aware of the homophobe comment he made, I guess I just don't get how that makes a funny punch line for this comic strip.

In my opinion cartoon #2 gets a big FAIL! :)

Posted by: Bee at April 5, 2009 12:53 PM

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 11:57 AM

"She [Phyllis Schlafly] routinely disparages whole groups of people, such as American Indians, college professors and gays and lesbians."


If I were an American Indian, I would be offended and object to being lumped in with college professors and homosexuals.

Wait a minute...... I am an American Indian and I do so object.

Where do I go to get my good name back?


All seriousness aside these charges from liberal humanist feminists (I know it's a repetitively redundant phrase.) are not sustainable except in their petty (not 'pretty', that would be sexist)little feminista minds.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 5, 2009 1:05 PM

OH these are the best especially the first one.

Posted by: Maria at April 5, 2009 2:21 PM


LOL at the anatomy comment. Personally, I hope the man ends up (no pun intended) with anal poisoning.

Posted by: Mary at April 5, 2009 3:11 PM

That first comic is disturbing to me.

Posted by: LizFromNebraska at April 5, 2009 5:06 PM

There is no such thing as a pro-abortion Catholic. When you advocate for abortion, you abdicate your status as a Catholic. When you become Catholic, you repent of any support of child-murder.

It's pretty straightforward.

Posted by: Jacqueline at April 5, 2009 5:31 PM

Barney Frank is a bag of hot wind. I think that president O-bortion would LOVE for someone to kiss his feet. He's loving every second of the limelight. So is his wife. 2 ego-maniacs who deserve one another;/

Posted by: Heather at April 5, 2009 7:19 PM


Posted by: Heather at April 5, 2009 7:19 PM

Michelle Obama looks like a devil. I swear she does!!!

Posted by: Heather at April 5, 2009 7:31 PM

Hey all, I'll be back on Saturday cause I am going cold turkey from the Computer/Internet this week (its a personal sacrifice for me since I almost LIVE on the Internet). Be good!

Posted by: LizFromNebraska at April 5, 2009 7:43 PM

Bee: "In my opinion cartoon #2 gets a big FAIL! :)"

The punchline is not the quote but the commentary next to him.

"Biggest toxic ASSet"

The quote is only there to further caricaturize him.

Posted by: Oliver at April 5, 2009 11:34 PM

Speaking of bowing, I hear our great leader bowed at the waist with his eye level to the waist of the king of Saudi Arabia. One commentator described this as a violation of protocol and not worthy of the office he holds.
He was the only world leader in the room who did this. They must consult their protocol officers.
Apparently the Obamas don't consult with protocol people in the White House. You can go to for the full story.

Also, the Obamas were so loved in Europe that Michelle and the wife of the French president had to cancel a planned visit to a hospital because of the riots and protests.
Check this out on

Just some things our Obamamedia conveniently doesn't bother to mention.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 7:15 AM

Excuse me, I should describe it as the Obamamania media.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 7:18 AM

Mary, thanks for the info. I had not heard about it.

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 7:52 AM

ndf 7:24am

Oh right, of course they weren't. They love him so much Michelle and the wife of the French president couldn't visit a hospital without putting their safety at risk.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:01 AM

Good Morning Heather 7:52am

You hadn't heard about it. No surprise there.

I'm just surprised the very presence of Obama does not quiet the protests and violence.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:08 AM

Mary, good morning. I just finished reading about it. Thanks for the link!

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 8:15 AM

Mary, the news covers most everything else in the world. Makes one wonder why they wouldn't mention the riots! I guess it's just not Newsworthy:\?????

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 8:19 AM

I've heard plenty about the riots I'm just surprised the presence of Obama didn't stop them. Since our "media" takes dictation from the White House it has does little more than what it does best, slobber over the Obamas.
I thought that bow to the king of Saudi Arabia was a hoot. That one guy in the picture looked like he couldn't keep a straight face. Can you just imagine if George Bush had done that?

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:28 AM

This is really off-topic, but if you're reading this Oliver, I thought of you (and, unrelated, almost threw my computer across the room) when I read this article:

So much for the reliability of not caring about the public schools.

I honestly don't understand why the NY Times writes articles like that one. Sometimes I seriously wonder if they do it just to provoke an outpouring of articulate comments in disagreement. I have lived here my whole life and people like those in the article are...not what NYC is, to say the least.

I'd be interested to see what effect the "newfound" embracing of public school has on the gentrifying forces at play in "trendy" places like Harlem -- those forces being driven by people like one quoted in a previous NYT article saying something about how they don't want to change the neighborhood, but the area really is "in need of" a Thai restaurant.

Posted by: Alexandra at April 6, 2009 8:34 AM

Mary, we never would have heard the end of it had it been Bush!!! Every little thing the poor man did was reported! Now every little screw up made by Obama is still blamed on Bush. Liberals love the blame game.......Mary, would it be okay if one of te mods gave me your e-mail address again? I lost every contact when my computer crashed!!!!!:O

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 8:35 AM


How does he make us look good? I thought that bow made him look like an idiot.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:36 AM

Heather 8:35am

Certainly, have them give you my e-mail.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:38 AM


Was Bush impregnating teenagers? The economy? Obama has done what to remedy that? Even the Communist Chinese are lecturing him on fiscal responsibility. Being Obama put us more in debt to them I suppose they have a right to!

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:41 AM

Good morning Alexandra,

I think this is just a sad commentary on public education in this country.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 8:46 AM

Mary, thank you. I have to run. Doctors appointment.

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 8:48 AM

I agree, Mary. I guess I view it as less of a sad commentary on public education, and more of a sad commentary on the attitudes of some people towards public education. Or towards the community as a whole -- it's all about clawing other people out of the way to get something you THINK is better, rather than building something better yourselves. The laziness and the sense of entitlement is astounding. I would hate to live in a "good school" zone and have been sending my kids to public school for years only to have people like this, who have spent their lives viewing my situation as a 'last resort,' come fighting their way in the doors and cheating their way through the system just desperate to cash in on the school community I have worked hard to set up or maintain.

And good morning to you as well!

Posted by: Alexandra at April 6, 2009 9:07 AM

Alexandra 9:07am

You bring up several good points.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 9:13 AM

Mary, I hadn't seen that story either.

Obama isn't satisfied with being President of the United States. He has visions of being "King of the World", IMHO.

Posted by: Janet at April 6, 2009 9:16 AM

Good Morning Janet,

Which story? Michelle and the First Lady of France having to cancel their trip to a hospital or Obama bowing?

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 9:23 AM

Did NDfan have all his/her comments deleted or all of you on drugs?


Interesting article and not suprising. Thanks for thinking of me, even if it correlated with computicide.

Posted by: Oliver at April 6, 2009 10:09 AM

So I suppose you are opposed to the President's expansion of the war in Afghanistan and the lengthened retention of troops in Iraq?

Posted by: Oliver at April 6, 2009 10:21 AM

Oliver, 10:09am

ndfan must have had his/her comments deleted and today I'm not on drugs. :)

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 10:36 AM

Wow, I have to quote this to prevent it from being deleted.

Ndfan: "sadly I guess what I have to say threatens to undermine the cause. I suppose that's an honor"

You havent posted one intelligent thought about any topic ever so far. I wouldnt worry about taking that honor.

Anyone care to clarify the reason for the deletion? I asked before if Ndfan is Asitis and/or "suomynona?" Is that the reason, or is just that Ndfan is a generic troll? Or have we finally started pruning out the drunken ramblings from the pro-choice side?

Posted by: Oliver at April 6, 2009 10:46 AM

Oliver, yes ...ndfan is asitis.

Posted by: Bethany at April 6, 2009 10:47 AM

I know its kind of none of my business, but it is also sort of disconcerting that an adult woman can be so obsessed to act this way. I hope her supposed previous posts about knowing several of our addresses was just a lot of hot air.

Posted by: Oliver at April 6, 2009 10:53 AM

Mary @ 7:15, apparently this admin. is too important to worry about such details. And he told Europeans in one of his speeches that WE are arrogant and don't appreciate their heritage!

Posted by: Eileen #2 at April 6, 2009 11:04 AM

Oliver -- you are right -- it is getting creepy.

Posted by: Eileen #2 at April 6, 2009 11:05 AM

(don't feed trolls)

Posted by: Carla at April 6, 2009 1:50 PM

I'm in and out of the house today. To answer your question,
I was referring to the "Obama bowing" story", but, since you mentioned it, I also hadn't heard about the cancelled trip to the hospital. I've been out of the loop regarding the news the last few days.

It seems today Obama apologized for not speaking Austrian. I thought they spoke German in Austria.

His faux pas in the realm of foreign affairs are becoming quite embarrassing. How can he expect ALL Americans to speak a foreign language when he doesn't know any? Has he not had time to learn one? Yikes.

Posted by: Janet at April 6, 2009 2:10 PM

Hi Janet,

Its always nice to see you. What an absolute scream. Don't feel bad if you don't speak Austrian President Obama, no one else can either!
I hadn't heard that one. Our president preaches to us about knowing another language and he only speaks American!

Believe me Janet, if this was Bush we'd hear analysis upon analysis, ad nauseum, then reanalysis, about these embarassments overseas.
You'd think he'd observe the other world leaders just shaking hands with the king and get the message.

In the meantime, I hope Queen Elizabeth is enjoying Obama's speeches on her ipod. Can imagine such arrogance?

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 2:28 PM

Oliver, That is creepy!! That's almost borderline threatening. And they think that Pro-lifers are loons!!!

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 2:53 PM

Good grief, did anyone else find Bush ducking the flying shoes as funny as I did?? He did it all with a smile!! He was a good Prez!

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 2:56 PM

For Jasper:

Posted by: Hal at April 6, 2009 3:35 PM

Hi Mary,

Thank you. Always nice to see you too!

Obama giving an ipod to the Queen does seem a bit odd, but then her usual gift to dignitaries is a framed picture of herself. I suppose one in such a position of power is bound to have a healthy ego. :)

* * * *

"Good grief, did anyone else find Bush ducking the flying shoes as funny as I did?? He did it all with a smile!! He was a good Prez!"

Yes, I thought it was funny too. He took it in stride. My guess is it wasn't the first time he'd been taunted and probably won't be the last.

Posted by: Janet at April 6, 2009 4:50 PM

I just listened to Bush during the Texas Rangers radio broadcast. It was refreshing to hear him and his laid back and honestly self depricating humor as opposed to our current slimy, arrogant, ingenious, selective sychophant of a president.

Also, go Rangers!

Posted by: Oliver at April 6, 2009 5:08 PM


I think the queen's gift is appropriate.
I would think assuming that someone wants a permanent recording of me yammering for a half hour plus is a little egotistical.
Somehow I don't envision the queen anxiously tuning into his speeches!

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 5:21 PM

Oliver, 5:08PM

Especially when you consider how Obama went whining to Maureen Dowd for ridiculing his ears!
He told her he was pretty sensitive about them.
She told him to get used to it. Good for her.
I think telling him to grow up would have been more appropriate.

Posted by: Mary at April 6, 2009 5:24 PM

"Let me say this as clearly as I can," Obama said. "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical ... in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."

Obama said the partnership between the U.S. and the Muslim world is critical in rolling back what he called a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.

"America's relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaida," he said. "We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

"We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country," Obama said.


America and the rest of the civilized world is NOT at war with Muslims, who are NOT at war with us.

Maybe the images of tens of thousands of Jeh hating Muslims from the 'fringe ideology' celebrating in the steets of different cities around the world at the news of the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center, where 3000 innocent people died in one day escaped PBHO's notice.

Where were equal numbers of 'mainstream' Muslims or even the leaders of manistream Islam condeming the Jew hating mass murderers who committed the atrocity?

PBHO is not stupid but he is at the very least a naive fool who mistakenly believes mad men are amenable to reason.

Where is this 'partnership' of which PBHO bloviates? It only exists in the fervent imaginations of his own vapid intellect.

The Muslim world should be leading the 'war' on the luantic fringe of the Islamic religion. Instead around the world we find the 'mainstream' Muslims indoctrinating their children to hate Jews and western culture.

While no man can rationally deny the contributions people of the Islamic faith have made to the arts and sciences through out history, we cannot also deny that to this day Islam has indulged slavery, oppressed women and persecuted people of other faiths.

Here are links to two video clips by Wafa Sultan, a former Muslim woman who was raised in the Islamic culture but escaped the oppression.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 6, 2009 5:49 PM

"For Jasper:

Posted by: Hal at April 6, 2009 3:35 PM"

Harsh interrogation is not torture.

name rank and serial number doesn't cut it.

Posted by: Jasper at April 6, 2009 7:51 PM

Mary, ROFL!! He was the best shoe ducker I've ever seen!!!

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2009 8:12 PM

'Steve Waldman'

Posted by: Hal at April 6, 2009 3:35 PM


Mr. Waldman could apply the same standard to the previous and present democrat administrations in regard to late term abortion where viable premature infants are deliberately pulled, alive, kicking, feet first from the womb, and then stabbed in the back of the neck so their brain matter can be harvested by inserting a suction canula into their skull and removing the contents.

Even NARAL did not lobby to protect this barbarism. But PBHO leaned in and took one for the Dead Babies R Us team and fought to keep this procedure legal.

"What is the value of having a religious person in office?",

even a self professed 'committed christian' like Barack Hussein Obama?

"If ever there was a situation when we actually could have benefited from having..... a Bible-reading, God-fearing Christian in the room to morally challenge utilitarian thinking, the discussions about" [partial birth abortion"] would have been it.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at April 6, 2009 8:16 PM

Harsh interrogation is not torture.

name rank and serial number doesn't cut it.
Posted by: Jasper at April 6, 2009 7:51 PM

Jasper, this is my last attempt to save your soul:

The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court.

As one write has summed it up:

In setting out after September 11 to "do whatever it takes" in the "tough, mean, dirty, nasty business" of protecting the country against "evil people," Bush administration officials were modern people treading a timeless road. However impressive the advanced degrees of the consultants they hired, the techniques of "enhanced interrogation" are in their essence ancient, for they play on emotions and physical realities that are basic and unchanging. Consider, for example, the "crude but effective" methods of the Soviet State Political Directorate (GPU):

They consisted usually of tying the victim in a strait-jacket to an iron bunk. The strait-jacket was his only clothing; he had no blanket, no food and was unable to go to the lavatory. With a gag in his mouth and a stopper in his rectum he would be given periodic beatings with rubber poles.[10]

Brutal stuff; hard to imagine Americans, however intent on "collecting intelligence against the enemy," engaging in such things. And yet as one looks again at those "crude but effective" procedures, one notices certain unchanging necessities. There is, for example, the basic need to keep the subject helpless and restrained, here accomplished with forced nudity and a straitjacket. In the "black sites," the same end was achieved by forced nudity and what the Red Cross terms, in its chapter of the same name, "prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles." One of the fourteen detainees, for example, tells the Red Cross investigators that

he was kept for four and a half months continuously handcuffed and seven months with the ankles continuously shackled while detained in Kabul in 2003/4. On two occasions, his shackles had to be cut off his ankles as the locking mechanism had ceased to function, allegedly due to rust.

This technique, like other of the "alternative set of procedures" detailed by the Red Cross, seems to have been consistently applied to many of the fourteen "high-value" detainees. Walid bin Attash told the Red Cross investigators that

he was kept permanently handcuffed and shackled throughout his first six months of detention. During the four months he was held in his third place of detention, when not kept in the prolonged stress standing position [with his hands shackled to the ceiling], his ankle shackles were allegedly kept attached by a one meter long chain to a pin fixed in the corner of the room where he was held.

As with the GPU set of procedures, prisoners were kept naked, deprived of blankets, mattresses, and other necessities, and deprived of food. As for "the stopper in the rectum," it was supplied by the GPU to deal with the practical if unpleasant problem of how to cope, in the case of a person who is naked and entirely under restraint and at the same time experiencing prolonged and extreme pain, with the inevitable consequences of his bodily functions. The Americans at the "black sites," who had also to face this unpleasant necessity, particularly when holding detainees in "stress positions," for example, forcing them for many days to stand naked with their hands shackled to a bolt in the ceiling and their ankles shackled to a bolt in the floor, developed their own equivalent:

While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper. This was the case for Mr. Bin Attash in his fourth place of detention. However, he commented that on several occasions the diaper was not replaced so he had to urinate and defecate on himself while shackled in the prolonged stress standing position. Indeed, in addition to Mr. Bin Attash, three other detainees specified that they had to defecate and urinate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids.

One turns, finally, to those "periodic beatings with rubber poles" that the GPU administered. No rubber poles are to be found in the Red Cross report. Once again, though, as with the stopper in the rectum and the diapers, the rubber poles simply represent the GPU's practical solution to a problem shared by the CIA at the "black sites": How can one beat a detainee repeatedly without causing debilitating or permanent injury that might make him unfit for further interrogation? How, that is, to get the pain and its effect while minimizing the physical consequences?

Where the GPU responded by developing rubber poles, the CIA created its plastic collar, "an improvised thick collar or neck roll," as the Red Cross investigators describe it in Chapter 1.3.3 ("Beating by use of a collar"), that "was placed around their necks and used by their interrogators to slam them against the walls." Though six of the fourteen detainees report the use of the "thick plastic collar," which, according to Khaled Shaik Mohammed, would then be "held at the two ends by a guard who would use it to slam me repeatedly against the wall," it is plain that this particular technique was perfected through experimentation. Indeed, the plastic collar seems to have begun as a rather simple mechanism: an everyday towel that was looped around the neck, the ends gathered in the guard's fist. The collar appeared later and brought with it other innovations:

Mr. Abu Zubaydah commented that when the collar was first used on him in his third place of detention, he was slammed directly against a hard concrete wall. He was then placed in a tall box for several hours (see Section 1.3.5, Confinement in boxes). After he was taken out of the box he noticed that a sheet of plywood had been placed against the wall. The collar was then used to slam him against the plywood sheet. He thought that the plywood was in order to absorb some of the impact so as to avoid the risk of physical injury.

How to inflict pain without causing injury that might inhibit or prevent further interrogation? And how to do so in such a way that the pain inflicted might be said not to be akin to that "associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result"? This was of course the legal definition of torture concocted by White House and Justice Department lawyers (and codified in what has come to be known as the "Torture Memo," written by John Yoo and signed by Jay Bybee on August 1, 2002). The challenging task set before these lawyers was to somehow "make legal" a set of techniques that had originated in a program developed expressly to prepare soldiers for techniques that were illegal, and thereby to offer officials and interrogators a "golden shield" that would suffice to convince them they would be protected from legal consequences.)

In answer to these questions, and with the benefit of experimentation, especially on Mr. Abu Zubaydah, one of the first of the alleged "big fish" al-Qaeda captives, the CIA seems to have arrived at a method that is codified by the International Committee of the Red Cross experts into twelve basic techniques, as follows:

* Suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth...
* Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head...
* Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees' neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall...
* Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face...
* Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement...
* Prolonged nudity...this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months...
* Sleep deprivation...through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noises or music...
* Exposure to cold temperature...especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and...use of cold water poured over the body or...held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of water.
* Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet...
* Threats of ill-treatment, to the detainee and/or his family...
* Forced shaving of the head and beard...
* Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest...

As the Red Cross writers tell us, "each specific method was in fact applied in combination with other methods, either simultaneously or in succession." A clear picture of this cumulative effect comes from the three long excerpts of interviews with detainees published as annexes at the end of the report, which I have quoted from and discussed at length in my earlier article.[11] To understand the effect one must remember what all experienced torturers know: dramatic results can be achieved with simple techniques. Forced standing, for example:

Ten of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently.... For example, Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, apart from the time when he was taken for interrogation, he was shackled in prolonged stress standing position for one month in his third place of detention.... Mr. Bin Attash for two weeks with two or three short breaks where he could lie down in Afghanistan and for several days in his fourth place of detention.... Mr. Hambali for four to five days, blindfolded with a type of sack over his head, while still detained in Thailand....

This prolonged forced standing is, again, an ancient technique, and a favorite, notably, of the Soviet intelligence services. It can be difficult, when gazing at the stark descriptions of these procedures, to understand their effect. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example, when approving in December 2002 a series of interrogation techniques that included forced standing for up to four hours, famously scribbled in the lower margin, beneath his initials: "However, I stand for 8–10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours? D.R." Secretary Rumsfeld, who no doubt was standing at his desk when he scrawled these words, professed to have difficulty comprehending the difference between working at a standing desk in one's office—signing documents, talking on the telephone, speaking to subordinates, drinking coffee—and standing naked in a very cold room with hands shackled to the ceiling for hours and days at a time.

One can gain a hint of the difference simply by rising and standing motionless with one's hands extended directly overhead and trying to maintain the position for, say, thirty minutes. Then imagine maintaining it for several hours, or days, or weeks. The physical effects, as described in a notorious study of Communist interrogation methods by two psychologists, are dramatic:

After 18 to 24 hours of continuous standing, there is an accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the legs. This dependent edema is produced by the extravasation of fluid from the blood vessels. The ankles and feet of the prisoner swell to twice their normal circumference. The edema may rise up the legs as high as the middle of the thighs. The skin becomes tense and intensely painful. Large blisters develop, which break and exude watery serum....[12]

This medical observation is confirmed in the accounts of at least two of the detainees in the ICRC report, including that of Khaled Shaik Mohammed:

...I was kept for one month in the cell in a standing position with my hands cuffed and shackled above my head and my feet cuffed and shackled to a point in the floor. Of course during this month I fell asleep on some occasions while still being held in this position. This resulted in all my weight being applied to the handcuffs around my wrists resulting in open and bleeding wounds.... [Scars consistent with this allegation were visible on both wrists as well as both ankles.] Both my feet became very swollen after one month of almost continual standing.

Posted by: Hal at April 7, 2009 9:06 AM