ESSAY- The Nazis: We have met them, and they are us

Nazis. Americans are Nazis. We are Nazis.

Godwin's Law, the theory that any policy discussion devolves into accusations that someone's a Nazi, be damned. It's impossible to read the newly-released CIA report on the torture of Muslim prisoners without thinking of the Third Reich.

Sadism exists in every culture. A century ago, for example, Western adventurers who visited Tibet reported that the authorities in Lhasa, that supposed capital of pacifism, publicly gouged out criminals' eyes and yanked out their tongues. But Nazi atrocities were stylistically distinct from, say, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians or the Rwandan massacres of the early 1990s. German war crimes were characterized by methodical precision, the application of "rational" technology to increase efficiency, the veneer of legality and the perversion of medical science.

Nazi crimes were also marked by public indifference, which amounted to tacit support. Here and now, only 25 percent of Americans told the latest Pew Research poll that they believe torture is always wrong.

"The CIA's secret interrogation program operated under strict rules, and the rules were dictated from Washington with the painstaking, eye-glazing detail beloved by any bureaucracy," observed the New York Times. We have much in common with the Germans.

"In July 2002," the declassified report reveals, a CIA officer "reportedly used a 'pressure point' technique: with both of his hands on the detainee's neck, [he] manipulated his fingers to restrict the detainee's carotid artery." Another agent "watched his eyes to the point that the detainee would nod and start to pass out; then...shook the detainee to wake him. This process was repeated for a total of three applications on the detainee."

The CIA's rinse-lather-repeat approach to torture is reminiscent of Dr. Sigmund Rascher's experiments at Dachau and a parallel project conducted by the Japanese Imperial Army's infamous Unit 731 in occupied Manchuria in 1942-43. Rascher, who was tried for war crimes after World War II, froze or lashed detainees nearly to death, then revived them over and over. German and Japanese doctors developed detailed protocols governing the severity of exposure to which inmates could be subjected– protocols seized by U.S. occupation forces and turned over to the OSS, predecessor of the CIA. So it was in the CIA's prisons at Guantánamo, Bagram, Diego Garcia, eastern Europe, Thailand and elsewhere.

(Or, to be more accurate, so it is. Bush publicly banned torture in 2006, but we know it was still going on as of 2007. Obama supposedly banned it again earlier this year, but then his CIA director Leon Panetta told Congress the agency reserves the right to keep doing it. Until the entire secret prison network is dismantled and every single prisoner released, it would be absurd to assume that torture is not continuing.)

Among the verbal treasures in the CIA papers is the "Water Dousing" section of the "Guidelines on Medical and Psychological Support to Detainee Rendition, Interrogation and Detention," which "allow for water to be applied using either a hose connected to tap water, or a bottle or similar container as the water source." Ah, the glorious war on terror. Detainees may be soaked in water as cold as 41 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as 20 minutes– no longer, no colder.

For the record, the CIA's medical expertise is about as reliable as its legal and moral sense. Forty-one degrees is bracingly cold; 41 was the temperature of the Hudson River was when US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into it earlier this year. (Remember the ice floes?) "Generally, a person can survive in 41-degree water for 10, 15, or 20 minutes," Dr. Christopher McStay, an emergency room physician at New York City's Bellevue Hospital told Scientific American magazine.

Like its Gestapo and SS antecedents, the CIA is highly bureaucratic. CIA employees were informed that "Advance Headquarters approval is required to use any physical pressures [against prisoners]." And those permissions came from the very top of the chain of command: the White House, which ordered the Office of Legal Counsel and other legal branches of the federal government to draft "CYA" memoranda. The memos, wrote Joshua L. Dratel in his introduction to "The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib," a compilation of memos authorizing torture of Muslim detainees reflect "a wholly result-oriented system in which policy makers start with an objective and work backward."

Also reminiscent of Nazism is the utter absence of firewalls that has come to characterize the behavior of top government officials. Totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany corrupt the judiciary by using the courts to carry out political policy. Beginning under Bush and now under Obama, judicial independence has been eradicated.

On August 28th the New York Times reported: "In July, Leon E. Panetta, the CIA director, tried to head off the investigation [of the CIA's torture program], administration officials said. He sent the CIA's top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston, to [the Department of] Justice to persuade aides to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to abandon any plans for an inquiry." There's a term for this: Obstruction of Justice. You're not supposed to try to influence the outcome of an investigation. It was count six of the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

To Holder's credit, he has appointed a special prosecutor. To his discredit, the focus of the investigation is narrow: he will only go after officials who went beyond the Bush Administration's over-the-top torture directives (which allow, as seen above, freezing people to death). He does not plan to go after the worst criminals, who are the Bush Administration lawyers and officials, including Bush and Cheney themselves, who ordered the war crimes– much less those like Obama who are currently covering them up.

He should change his mind. While he's at it, he should throw Leon Panetta in jail.

Holder's brief currently involves just 20 cases, which include detainees who were murdered by the CIA. But even those will be tough to prosecute, reports the New York Times: "Evidence, witnesses, and even the bodies of the victims of alleged abuses have not been found in all cases."

Because, you see, the bodies were burned and dumped.

They– the CIA– are Nazis for committing the crimes. And we are Nazis for not giving a damn.

Only a third of Americans told the April 27th CBS News/New York Times poll that there ought to be an investigation of Bush-era war crimes–and they don't care enough to march in the streets, much less break a few windows. So few of my columns on torture have been reprinted by American newspapers or websites that I seriously contemplated not bothering to write this one.

We have met the Nazis, and they are us.


Author Ted Rall lives in New York. His most recent book is Wake Up, You're Liberal! How We Can Take America Back from the Right (Soft Skull Press).



Ted Rall does indeed have a point. But in terms of which Nazi policies the United States now has adopted, he is way off base.

Here is the policy which we now employ here and now:

"It will be necessary to open special institutions for abortions and doctors must be able to help out there in case there is any question of this being a breach of their professional ethics."

Adolph Hitler

Here are the Human Rights Accords, enacted after World War Two so as to prevent Nazi medicine from every returning:

Far in excess of anything that may have happened at Guantanamo and/or in the jails of foreign governments, 3700 infants are killed PER DAY in the USA alone. Hundreds of them will give birth later in life preterm to children with any number of birth defects. But this science will be suppressed in favor of the political idea that subhuman parasites are unwanted and need to be exterminated, discarded, or indeed cut up into sell-able parts for research.

They are not us, but it appears that we very much have become them.

"Nazi crimes were also marked by public indifference, which amounted to tacit support."

Substantiate please. What percentage of the German public was *aware*, and of that group how many were indifferent? How many wanted to die protesting?

It's easy to criticize at a safe remove. And it's easy to make up generalizations without reference to research.

And, for the record, Ted Rall publicly rejects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and embraces Hitler's policy of abortion to lower the numbers of unwanted populations instead.

Not even all the children already born to post abortive mothers needlessly living lives burdened with severe birth defects is enough to dissuade him from ensuring that there are many more to come. Human Rights should never take precedence over the father of the modern abortion movement - Mr. Hitler. Auschwitz doctor Mengele was also a pioneer in making the procedure more survivable for women. Ted Rall ought to give the founding fathers of his movement regarding this issue more credit.

Here's just the latest study proving these common sense facts:

Dr. Ghislain Hardy, a third-year resident in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at McGill University did a retrospective chart review of women who had delivered a baby between 2001 and 2005 at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Among the 17, 916 women who had a singleton delivery, 2,276 (13%) also had undergone a previous abortion and 862 (5%) had two or more induced abortions.

After adjusting for baseline characteristics, women with one previous abortion were 45% more likely to have a premature child at under 32 weeks; 71% more likely at less than 28 weeks; and more than twice as likely at less than 26 weeks. This association was even stronger for those with two or more abortions. “Preterm birth is a major concern in our health-care system today. It is the most important cause of neonatal morbidity,” said Dr. Hardy in his presentation. The rate of preterm birth is on the rise in Canada, and was more than 8.1% in 2006. Preterm birth is a burden on neonatal intensive care units, and these children go on to have health and social problems.


There's really no wiggling around Hitler's quote, nor the history of the postwar Human Rights Accords. There is a doctor employed at UVA hospital right now who would have been tried at the Nuremberg trials (the Nazi Doctor's Trial, to be specific) and executed.

And the historical linkage from social darwinism, to eugenics, to nazism, to Margaret Sanger, to Roe vs. Wade is very well documented. What percentage of the American public is *aware* of the link to abortion of preterm birth and birth defects? How many are indifferent due to their POLITICS?

Three links you may find of some use in your request for substantiation.

The troll is at it again. His supposed logic is that Hitler supported abortion, therefore abortion is obviously bad. The same could be also be said for vegetarianism, highway construction, and dogs.

Of course, the Nazi regime generally opposed voluntary abortion (reversing policies of the more liberal Weimar Republic), and doctors were not tried after World War II for performing voluntary abortions. But the troll isn't capable of using facts or reason.

Yes, I can presume you can read - but I can also conclude that you did not read the article I posted above. It contains historical facts that you find very unpleasant. Too bad.

Facts are irrelevant to you, obviously - and cerebral palsy for innocent children is perfectly OK with you as long as you can try to keep people in the dark as to what causes it and your rather cruel political agenda of keeping people in the dark is held up. It's all you folks can hope for - that the medical science and the history of what you support remains hidden. But the advent of the internet has made that rather difficult now.

Keep on supporting beheadings. Keep on supporting birth defects. People are wising up, and people are defending human rights in spite of you.

You can't change history any more than you can change medical science.


Godwin's law is a 'law' for a reason. No serious student of history could compare the United State's limited torture of last decade to the Nazi's systematic and widespread system of torture and murder (not to mention putting tens of millions in concentration camps). Even more laughable is comparing the fight that's been going on in our court systmems to regime like Nazi Germany who "corrupt the judiciary by using the courts to carry out political policy". Those courts in Nazi Germany didn't even have to rubber stamp Hitler's policies...they were never consulted and the policies couldn't be challenged anyway.

A more apt, and less ridiculous, comparison might be made to the British treatment of detainee's in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s.

As for what happened. It was certainly not a moment of pride for the US, but somewhat understandable in light of the threat in my opinion (those who subverted the law are still responsible for their actions).

Sean. This article is about torture. What is your opinion on that?

You can't change history any more than you can change medical science.
This from a troll whose medical claims have been torn to pieces in this forum.

Sean, you're just not smart. You indiscriminately and inaccurately cite claims without any sense of rigor. As a result, educated people don't take you or your positions seriously.

JJ, I am obviously against torture as it is done in defiance of Geneva. I agree that comparing Guantanamo to Auschwitz is ridiculous, but that doesn't mean that what happened there was right. I am more concerned with all the prisoners who died in Iraq while in US custody. Keep in mind that there are more images that even Mr. Obama does not want anyone to see detailing mistreatment of prisoners in Iraqi jails. But the defiance of Geneva with regard to infanticide is direct, valid and easily pointed out. There is no escape from what the UDHR and the Geneva accords said. Shoot the messenger of you wish. It changes nothing. This article was about how we have (according to the author) embraced Nazi policies. He is right, but not with regard to torture. He is right regarding how easy it is to commit mass murder once you remove the humanity of your victims and pretend they are parasites and/or subhuman. Same mentality that brought us the slave trade. Yes, abortionists are the slave owners and concentration camp guards of today. Same ideology. Same results for the victims.

Yawn, medical science (not to mention common sense) has not been turned on its head on these or any threads. If you think it has, please show us the research that proves this. Show me the studies that have concluded that abortion does NOT cause preterm birth later in life that actually have numbers backing up that political statement. Show us all.

Also, you may be interested in knowing that just this week, it has become even harder for you and yours to keep people in the dark about this.

"women with one previous abortion were 45% more likely to have a premature child at under 32 weeks; 71% more likely at less than 28 weeks; and more than twice as likely at less than 26 weeks. This association was even stronger for those with two or more abortions."

So you like creating birth defects for innocent children, Yawn. It's as simple as that.


Troll, everyone, but you apparently, understands that abortion is a significant medical procedure that involves sequelae. You have demonstrated that you cannot understand and interpret epidemiological literature, but this does not mean that others cannot do so and appropriately weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various medical treatments and procedures.

Now, if you were actually capable of productive things, then you would post a link to your public apology for offending the family of the deceased U.Va. student that you claim to care so deeply about.

Thanks for that white flag, Yawn.

I knew you couldn't come up with anything, and I was right. Anyone else is welcome to try and thwart the overwhelming science I have mentioned here. You can see more of what Yawn does not want people to know about in the left column here:

Maybe someday you'll find yourself in a wheelchair and get a better idea of what your political beliefs have imposed on so many children already. Indeed, cannot a child needlessly given with cerebral palsy due to his or her mothers previous abortion be considered a victim of needless torture?

Worse still, you want to keep people in the dark about grave threats to their lives and the lives of their children. All just to prop up your political views.