Gary Lehmann - Author

Author's Publications and Upcoming Appearances

Thursday, January 25, 2007

FootHills Publishing announces Gary Lehmann's newest book of poetry, American Sponsored Torture

FootHills Publishing of Kanona, NY announced in January their intention to publish Gary Lehmann's long poem American Sponsored Torture: a Poem in Twelve Parts in May 2007 to coincide with the opening of the ArtistWorks & PoetWords exhibition to be held at the Dome Arena, Rochester NY, for the month of May.

The Lehmann exhibition will include a soft sculpture created by artist Bernie Lehmann and a book of poetry by poet Gary Lehmann The preface to the book explains the rationale for the series.

In 2006, the United States Congress passed legislation enabling agents of the United States to use what human right organizations describe as torture to obtain information from anyone they deem as harboring information they believe might be helpful to them in the War on Terrorism. In the past, we have always opposed state sponsored terrorism -- when other countries did it. Now we have passed legislation to enable torture on our own behalf, and we don’t even know where or when it is being conducted. The government attempted to cover its tracks by redefining the word torture to exclude the practices named in the legislation, but no one has been fooled, least of all those who will suffer physical abuse as a result.

We blithely accept that there is a War on Terrorism even though no state of war has been declared in contravention of the War Powers Act. How do we ask other nations to treat their people humanely when we use torture ourselves? The argument for this radical change of policy is that it will protect our rights, but the means used to protect our rights violate what are commonly defined by our Constitution and by International Human Rights Organizations as the basic rights of all people. This state of perplexing contradiction is distressing enough when it occurs in the traffic laws or in tax regulations. It is a call to action when it involves the violation of basic human rights.

American Sponsored Torture is a twelve part poem exploring these issues.

Here is a sampling of the poems to be included.

I

A big gray bird

A big gray bird is flying overhead in my sky.

It looks very much like a military troop transport,

but it has no insignia, no windows, and no tail numbers.

It is seen near U.S. Air Force bases and flies to foreign places.

It contains detainees who have no name.

They are not arrested or charged.

They are stateless persons without the protection of the law.

They are flying to places that can torture them

without my knowledge or consent.

They are stateless birds which are evidently invisible.

You’ll see them all over the country, near Air Force Bases.

Henceforth, you are instructed not to see them.


II

This is my country...

I pledge allegiance to the United States of America

and to the Republic which has passed legislation

enabling my armed forces and their agents to

obtain information by means generally defined as torture.

I retain the right to deny the use of torture, because I

have redefined the term in ways that exclude all the

methods named in the enabling legislation --

which authorizes my soldiers and agents to use torture.

I believe that the people of the world will be fooled

by this method, so that the people I torture will no longer

be able to report being tortured, because I have redefined

torture to exclude the techniques I have used on them.


III

Enabling Legislation

On Thursday,

the Congress voted to pass a bill

which permits the information

gained from coercive interrogation procedures

to be used in evidence against

a terrorist suspect

in a military tribunal.

The UN Commission on Human Rights,

Amnesty International,

and other human rights organizations

have not altered their stance

against all inhumane treatment,

but the bill will provide cover

for the administration’s decision

to openly embrace torture

as a means of advancing state policy.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill

tomorrow.


IV

Waterboarding

The simple explanation is that waterboarding is

the practice of strapping a prisoner to a board,

hands and feet, and then stuffing a rag in his mouth

so he can’t close it.

Then several gallons of water are poured into his open mouth

until the subject begins to drown.

After hovering on the edge of death

for upwards of two minutes, gagging uncontrollably,

the half-drowned person is revived,

and will readily tell you anything you want

as long as you promise to stop

waterboarding.

The fact that this procedure sometimes does drown the

unaccused, uncharged, victim is explained away

as an unfortunate bi-product of

the need to protect our human rights.

According to the new law,

waterboarding is not torture,

coercion is not torture,

provided no organs fail during its execution.


V

understanding bearable cruelty

bearable cruelty is not really torture

water torture focuses the mind – after several days

sleep deprivation motives prisoners to talk – in their sleep

electric probes stimulate the brain – to say anything

broken bones are the price of freedom – !

provided that no organs fail


VI

The Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits

“Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”

Those words are unclear, open to interpretation [smirk].

Non-national combatants are not subject to inter-national law.

Get it? Guys out of uniform aren’t fighting for a nation.

Physical abuse is all they understand.

These brutes don’t deserve the rights of U.S. citizens.

We can’t be held responsible for the actions of others. Hell, it’s war.

Humiliating and degrading prisoners teaches them to respect us.

Off-shore agreements entered into by sub-contractors of the government

are not subject to governmental review.

I’m torturing these prisoners in order to preserve our rights.

These include our right to humane treatment and legal representation,

our right to a trial by a jury of peers and

our right to be held only after charges have been filed.

If we let these guys go, they will show disrespect for our rights.

We can’t have that. That would promote lawlessness.

We need to torture them so they’ll see what a wonderful way of life

we have and come over to our side and help us.

It’s just common sense really.

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