Opinion » Ted Rall

Boys Gone Wild

Pick your favorite homoerotic torture technique

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NEW YORK--Right-wing Republicans are weird. When gays and lesbians want to marry and raise kids in the suburbs, the right-wingers freak out. "Perverts!" they scream at these bland strivers. But when supposedly straight soldiers in the Army, Marines and CIA engage in male-on-male rape and other acts of homosexual sadism so bizarre and extreme they turn off the average, gay-marriage-craving civilian, Republican legislators think it's the best thing ever.

No one talked about it much at the time, but those now-forgotten photos of torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib were the kind of extreme homoerotic kink your local porn vendor keeps hidden under the counter. Iraqi inmates of mental asylums led around like dogs on leashes. Iraqi prisoners, almost all later released as innocent, stripped of their clothes and forced to pile on top of each other naked.

Of course, America's state media censored the most disturbing images. Hundreds of photos showed sex acts between and among soldiers and detainees. Male prisoners were videotaped while being forced to masturbate and have sex with one another. They were forced to wear women's underwear. U.S. soldiers, CIA torturers and private mercenaries hired by the Bush Defense Department sodomized them with flashlights and possibly broomsticks. They were kept naked for days at a time. Some were smeared with feces.

The photos, said a spokesman for U.S. military forces in Iraq earlier this year, "do not reflect what is happening at Abu Ghraib now." Because the Red Cross has long been banned from visiting the prison, there's no way to know if that's true. We do know, however, that enforced nudity and other gayer-than-gay torture tactics have become de rigueur at other outposts of Bush's post-9/11 gulag archipelago, including Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan's Bagram concentration camp and the secret CIA prisons in Central and South Asia and Eastern Europe.

Moreover, torture has continued at Abu Ghraib since the United States turned over the facility to Iraq's puppet regime about two weeks ago. "Prisoners released from the jail this week spoke of routine torture of terrorism suspects and on [September 6], 27 prisoners were hanged in the first mass execution since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime," reported the British Independent newspaper. "Conditions in the rest of the jail were grim, with an overwhelming stench of excrement, prisoners crammed into cells for all but 20 minutes a day, food rations cut to just rice and water and no air conditioning."

The U.S. government's Boys Gone Wild, terrified that the courts could force them to fork over millions of dollars to their victims, buy torture insurance from the Arlington, Virginia-based Wright & Co. for $300 a year. If Americans ever come to their senses, however, our homotorturers could also face prison sentences. That's why George W. Bush wants to legalize the CIA's "alternative interrogation techniques" prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and the laws of 192 of the world's 193 nations. (The Pacific island of Nauru, which hasn't gotten around to ratification, might be a good spot to set up another "secret site.")

So what are the "alternative interrogation techniques"?

A well-sourced and repeatedly confirmed ABC News report lists six. In the "Attention Grab," the interrogator shakes a victim by his shirt. (This assumes that he isn't already nude.) The "Attention" and "Belly Slaps" are "aimed at causing pain and triggering fear." Then there's "Long Time Standing," in which victims are forced to stand for more than 40 hours straight. "Water Boarding" is the medieval practice of tying a victim to a board and dunking him under water. "Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt."

In order to work in American military intelligence, it seems, you really have to like looking at wet naked men with hard, erect nipples. In particular, it helps to be into wet naked Middle Eastern men. As a guy who looks away from other dudes in locker rooms, I doubt I'd fit in.

Now one right-wing Republican, George W. Bush, is fighting a gang of right-wing Republican senators over homoerotic torture tactics. The debate isn't about whether, but rather what kind of, homoerotic torture ought to be permissible. Bush is pretty much a whatever-it-takes, pro-flashlight-raping freak. Senators John McCain and John Warner are a little more vanilla. They want to set a few limits. Very few limits.

Jeffrey H. Smith, ex-general counsel for the Clinton-era CIA, says the senators are OK with the current menu of torture. "The senators seem to be prepared to allow some techniques, but not nearly as many as the administration wants," he told The New York Times. Bush, on the other hand, wants to allow just about any form of pain infliction the human mind can conceive.

This, my fellow citizens, is what we've come to. No one, not even the nominally opposition Democrats, dares suggest the obvious--that both sets of gay-torture-loving right-wing Republicans are out of their filthy little minds.