Saturday, May 15, 2004

"Welcome to Texas. Enjoy the ride. It's like Astroworld."

When the depraved prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib broke into the media, I suggested that this was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it is quite typical of the way Americans treat prisoners right here at home. Now there's yet more support, this time from The New Republic:
The footage is not easy to watch: In one clip, a prisoner screams as an attack dog mauls his leg; in another, a prisoner with a broken ankle gets zapped in the buttocks with a stun gun because he's not crawling along the floor quickly enough. These aren't the infamous video from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. They were taken in 1996, at the Brazoria County Detention Center outside of Houston. "Welcome to Texas," one guard announces as he literally drags a prisoner across the floor. "Enjoy the ride. It's like Astroworld." . . .

The episode was not unusual. Just last month, another videotape of apparent abuse became public; in this one, two inmates at a California youth prison lie seemingly defenseless on the floor while guards assault them, first with fists and later with chemical sprays (the guards claimed they acted in self-defense). . . .

What makes all these trends possible, of course, is vast public indifference: For all the legitimate concern over the abuses in Iraq, neither elected officials nor the public seem particularly worried that similar abuses happen all the time right here at home.
If Bush didn't care about rampant prison rape in Texas when he was governor, why should we be surprised that he wasn't all that interested in the use of rape to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation in Iraq?


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