It was a dark and stormy night….
Oh wait. Not really. As told by one-time Sexiest Man Alive (A2ML = according to Media Lizzy) Christopher Hitchens in the newly minted August issue of Vanity Fair, the story Believe Me, It’s Torture reads thus: (excerpt)
“In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.”
A couple of things come to mind. First, being an American man takes more than becoming a naturalized citizen. Second, I find myself quite disappointed in Hitch. Empathy, even sympathy, for the terrorists is hinted at. By the end of the article – it was all too clear that for Hitch, the pendulum has departed and is swinging inevitably Left.
Alas, some things are too good to be true. Hitchens held that place in my political heart that was once occupied by Sting aka Professor Gordon Sumner in the “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” video fantasy about a million years ago. Like so many soft-handed intellectuals, Hitchens predictably finds arguments for either side – talks about moral relativism – and defends his position on waterboarding as “torture.”
I am not here to debate the reasons for or against waterboarding. Or what does or does not constitute “torture.” Clearly the issue has complexities and implications mere mortals have a tough time comprehending. For me, anything that our men at SERE experience should be fair game. And the opinions of men who have never served, or the opinions of men that served only to fulfill a domestic political ambition, lack the credibility inherent in the first-person accounts shared throughout the active-duty ranks among those in non-integrated units, deployed behind enemy lines, who occasionally share the brutal truth of their day-to-day existence.
SERE ain’t for the faint of heart. It ain’t for a man who clings to childhood memories. It ain’t for a man who hasn’t the capacity to disassociate home-fires from hostile-fire. And as a girl, who has washed the sand away… absorbed the emotional crash landing when the debrief is over… I am reminded of the breathtaking sacrifice our Special Forces men make. With every life saved, every terrorist captured, every sleeper cell broken up, every weapons cache destroyed, every target that gets painted, every HVT (high value target) that gets nabbed under the dark of night or light of day- our world is improved with every breath they take. Every move they make. They stand watch so that we don’t have to.
And while Hitchens certainly wrote in earnest, I find myself closing the Hitch chapter and book. Instead, I am pleased to curl back up in the blankets of freedom provided to me every night by the men in unspeakable places, facing unspeakable dangers from an enemy who would never be so kind as to consult the US Army Field manual before taking actions that would by any definition constitute torture with a capital T.