Friday, April 17, 2009

More Torture

On the subject of US torture, Andrew Sullivan is far more eloquent than I. Among many articles he's posted on the subject, this one may be the best summary. Within it is a key paragraph:

Looked at from a distance, the Bush administration wanted to do two things at once: to declare to the world that freedom is on the march, and human rights are coming to the world with American help, while simultaneously declaring to captives that the US has no interest in the law, human rights, accountability, transparency or humanity. They wanted to give hope to all the oppressed of the planet, while surgically banishing all hope from the prisoners they captured and tortured. And the only way they could pull this off is by the total secrecy they constructed and defended. So we had a public government respectful of the rule of law, and a secret government whose main goal was persuading terror suspects that there was no rule of law at all. It is hard to convey just how dangerous this was and is.

We know the harm torture has done to our standing in the world. Other than unproven assertions, most of which have been contradicted by people at the center of it, we have no evidence that it helped in any way.

Many conservatives are horrified that the Obama administration has released the torture memos, and they pooh-pooh the idea that the techniques described even are torture (Heck, even Jenny Craig tortures: yes, it was used as justification!) Once again we see how certain issues that ought not have any political preference at all (among them: age of the Earth, creationism, climate change), seem to divide us along party lines. Given the undeniable truths about what it has and has not accomplished, I'm happy to be in the party that rejects torture.


Anonymous said...

Strategically, we couldn't have responded to 9/11 much worse. We invaded an uninvolved country, and in the process let Bin Laden slip away and gave Afghanistan, home of the fanatical Taliban, short shrift.

Here at home we have acted as if the next thing bound to happen is that some Arabs are going to hijack another airliner. Consider how silly is the ban on all sharp objects. Imagine standing up in an airplane with a box cutter, and the immediate, savage beating you'd receive.

The latest budget figures I see for the TSA are $7 billion/year. This despite the fact that cockpit doors are now locked, and even if you do bring down a plan seven miles in the air, travelling 500mph, you're not likely to kill more people than could a motivated McDonald's line cook.

Consider how the best responses to terrorism are always from the populace, yet perversely the government demands more and more docility. When the DC sniper was on the loose, the police were extremely economical with information. The one salient detail they mentioned was that the sniper might be in a white van. There's this put-upon guy who happens to drive a white van. Every time he stops at a red light he gets nervous glances. Eventually he comes across another white van and he'll be goddamned if he does't put an end to this now. Sure enough, he turned in the sniper. The government played almost no role.

The government, especially you-know-who, was ineffectual during 9/11. The only effective response was the passengers who, knowing their fate, valiantly wrestled their plane down into a field.

Vilification and torture of Arabs and Muslims has, as the post points out, served no positive purpose. At the same time it undermined our moral leadership, gave a blank check to dictators everywhere, and severely limited our chances in Iraq. We went in ostensibly (at least, one of the justfications) to clean up Saddam, but ended up emulating him.

Two of the last three big terrorist incidents in the US, Oklahoma City and Columbine, did not involve Arabs or Islam.

--Sam Spade

Anonymous said...

Go to TPM
and view 'The Day in 100 Seconds' for April 17 2009.

Listen to the republican mouthpieces babble - according to them, the release of the memos was an evil thing to do; worse than the torture the memos describe.

"Now the whole world knows what we were doing!" Like it was a surprise to anybody.

"Now they know what we will do." Like nobody else knows how to torture people.

"If that's what we have to do to protect ourselves, I don't want to know!" Like they can cling to the American myth of moral superiority.

Milton said something interesting about Satan - he said "Evil is Satan's good." He meant that when Satan does evil, to him and his minions, it is good.

That set me thinking; listening to these republican mouthpieces - nominal Christians all -I realized that - to them - torture is 'Good.'

Taking the next logical step I finally realized who it is they really worship.

Now I understand those people - who claim to be Christians, with God's name ever in their mouths, have him never in their hearts.

Eugene In San Diego

Anonymous said...

Doesn't work:

Sid Schwab said...

Sorry, whichever anon you are: old news, already debunked. First of all, he said "probably." Then he said it lasted 35 seconds and that was all there was. We now know it was 183 separate episodes. And that there was better information obtained BEFORE they resorted to the torture.

For everyone arguing it does work, there are many more, professionals, saying it doesn't.

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