Secret prisons. Military tribunals. Indefinite detention. Kidnappings. Accepted interrogation techniques that – let’s face it – are really just calling torture by any other name but torture. How did we get here?
Torture doesn’t work. It doesn’t produce credible testimony. Torture got us into this mess when Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the Libyan paramilitary that helped train Al-Queda, told his interrogators that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in chemical weapons. They later figured out he was just telling them what they wanted to hear.
Torture makes people feel good because you get to inflict pain on a perceived (un-convicted, un-charged) enemy. You get to deman, humiliate and degrade someone that looks like your enemy.
It all just makes me very sad.
If everyone agrees that torture doesn’t really work then why are we doing it? And why is this such an issue?
One reason is a wedge issue to help boost the GOP in the mid-term elections – they can paint the Democrats as being soft on terrorism. Of course, the counter-attack should be that loosening Geneva Conventions for the United States implies other countries can do the same – putting American soldiers and intelligence personnel at risk.
Paul Krugman tried to explain why Bush is obsessed with torture in his essay, ‘King of Pain’:
The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.
What I also find disconcerting is how permanent all of these changes are. He only has 2 more years left in his Presidency? Why have any kind of foresight now? Is this the implied ‘neo-cons rule forever’ idea? If you want to expand the power of the Presidency then why do it if you’re only going to be in power for 2 more years? I know Cheney is still obsessed with the ‘unitary executive’ because of his experience with Nixon.
Like I said. It makes me sad.
If someone can be kidnapped by the CIA with no access to legal counsel, no trial, no charges and detained indefinitely with no oversight – who’s to say that they can’t come get you and lock you away forever?