Can Anything Be More Un-American?
are many kinds of torture, from being forced to watch Gilligan's
Island re-runs to attaching electric wires to the genitals. When
I was a kid, I read about the horrible devices used in torture chambers
beneath the dungeons of medieval castles: the rack, iron maiden,
thumbscrews, branding, amputation, whipping and other fiendish devices
invented and applied by sick minds. Torture of "heretics"
during the Spanish Inquisition was turned over to civil government.
Torture to save heretics' souls was forbidden to the Church so they
"out-sourced" the dirty work , much as the U.S. sends
detainees for interrogation in other countries that employ horrible
methods forbidden to our people.
I would like
to think we no longer use torture on folks just because their religion
is not straight, but there are a lot of muslims who would argue
otherwise. The avowed purpose of turture is ostensibly to gather
intelligence. However we see it also being used for purposes of
intimidation or even just plain revenge.
Larry C. Johnson,
a former CIA officer, a deputy director of the State Department
Office of Counter-terrorism from 1989 to 1993 wrote in a recent
article in the L. A. Times, "During the last few months, I
have spoken with three good friends who are CIA operations officers,
all of whom have worked on terrorism at the highest levels. They
all agree that torturing detainees will not help us. In fact, they
believe that it will hurt us in many ways. My friends recognize
correctly that their mission is to gather intelligence, not to create
new enemies. If you inflict enough pain on someone, they will give
you information, but what they tell you may not be true. You will
have to corroborate it, which will take time. And, unless you kill
every suspect you brutalize, you will make enemies of them, their
families, maybe their entire villages."
In his Pulitzer-Prize-winning
book on the Vietnam war, "A Bright and Shining Lie," Neil
Sheehan exposes the horrible tortures used by the South Vietnamese
Army (the "good guys") which drove thousands of peasants
into the arms of the Viet Cong (the "bad guys"). It did
not accomplish what they wanted; just the opposite.
on to remind us that torture is dehumanizing both to ourselves and
others, and the fear of being attacked should never be used as justification
for this barbaric practice. He thinks we watch too many movies,
from the same folks who taught us that smoking was "cool,"
where torture is a routine method of extracting information used
by both the bad guys and the good guys. Says Johnson, "Cheney's
plea to permit CIA officers unrestricted interrogation methods would
be the death of the CIA as a professional intelligence service and
another stain on the reputation of the U.S."
like to think of our military as superior to the Gestapo in Nazi
Germany, or SAVAK in Iran, so many of our detainees are "outsourced"
to countries where brutal torture is the rule. Who's fooling whom?
President Dick Cheney nor any of the other folks in D.C. who want
to let CIA use torture have never experienced torture themselves.
Maybe it would be an eye opener to have a few techniques they approve
used on them, just for the educational value of the experience.
It is not by chance that the greatest legislative opponent of the
U.S. use of torture is Senator Jon McCain, who knows about torture
firsthand, having been a prisoner during the Vietnam War.
It is sort
of like saying that crime is bad and should be punished, except
for the Mafia, who can do as they wish. Crime is crime, torture
is torture, and if the information extracted under torture (prohibited
by the Constitution which says that a person cannot be forced to
testify against himself) is as useless as many CIA folks say it
is, then why do it?
One of the
reasons I am proud to be an American is because of our ideals and
the rule of law, both legal and moral. When we betray the principles
on which our country is built in the name of expediency and "the
ends justify the means" we are no better than the "good
Germans" who looked the other way during the Nazi reign of
terror during the 12 years of the Third Reich while millions were
being tortured and killed. Tacit approval is complicity, and Americans
need to listen to people like Sen. McCain. It is time to speak out
against this most un-American attitude and counter-productive practice!
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