Right before your eyes
--From the headlines
When they open the door and drag him in, his chains scraping against the cold concrete floor, you’ll be OK with that, right? You’ll be watching from behind the one-way glass, and there’s no way he’ll know you’re back there. Besides, he’ll have other things on his mind.
When they lead him to the table in the middle of the room, his wrists locked behind him, a man on either side of him, you’ll be OK with that, right? They can’t afford to have any problems. They certainly can’t afford to have him escape.
When they lift him to the table—a long and narrow thing, barely wide enough to hold a full-grown man—you’ll be OK with that, too, right? They’ll even loosen his hands temporarily, for the few seconds it takes to secure his wrists in front of him. He could try to strike out, you’ll think to yourself, but instead he’ll sit quietly, the low murmur of the guards the only sound in the tiny room.
When they start to strap his legs to the table, he’ll go momentarily stiff, and they’ll have to press down on his legs with their arms and their shoulders until their bulk overwhelms him. You’ll be OK with that, right? It can’t work unless his legs are tied down.
When they press the upper part of his body to the table, he’ll cry out, but the cries will be muffled by the pale green fabric stuffed in his mouth. You’ll know he isn’t happy, even if you can’t make out the words. But you’ll be OK with that, right? The idea isn’t to make him happy—the idea is to make him talk.
When they pull the straps tight across his chest, and lock his wrists to the sides of the table, you’ll be OK with that, right? You don’t want him falling once things get going.
When they adjust the table until his knees are higher than his shoulders and his head is tipped back just so, you’ll be OK with that, right? They’re the experts—they’ll know exactly how to set it up to make it work.
When they start to fill the big metal pitcher from the skinny metal pipe over in the corner, you’ll be OK with that, right? If he hears the water, you’ll think to yourself, so much the better—maybe he’ll give it up that much sooner and spare himself the worst of it.
When they carry the pitcher back to the table in the middle of the room, when they check all the straps one last time, when they cover his nose and his mouth with yet another cloth—you’ll be OK with that, too, right? This is war, and information is vital in a war. You do what you have to do.
When they start pouring the water onto the cloth that covers his nose and his mouth, and he starts coughing and choking, his fingers splayed and his body thrashing desperately against the straps, and they force his jaws open wide to send even more water running down his throat, and he’s thrashing even harder now and all you can hear is the coughing and the choking, you’ll be OK with that, right?
And when they make it stop—when they finally take the water away, and the cloth, and remove the gag, and the man strapped to the table shouts out his first words, shouts them out in perfect, unaccented American English…
And you realize that he’s one of ours…
“But that’s different!” you sputter. “That’s completely different!”
And you’re OK with that?
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.