Monday, April 27, 2009

Torture: hell or high water

Politics has drifted into uncharted waters now that torture has come to the surface.

Would any reasonable person tell you that waterboarding a captive 183 times could actually have much to do with helping him tell the truth? Now it seems the true purpose of the program may have had more to do with attempting to justify the then-coming invasion of Iraq ... come hell or high water.

Yet, in spite of the righteous indignation of this moment, even with the disgusting details of what was done in the name of protecting post-9/11 America in the air, there’s a peculiar problem with the torture issue. Many Americans can’t stomach looking at such depravity for very long.

Some current and formerly-elected officials are counting on that.

Like its blood brother, child abuse, the subject of torturing prisoners is too creepy for everyday people to dwell on for very long. They don’t want to look below the surface into the dark reservoir, where the soul-crushing motives of the perpetrators are hidden.

While that reluctance is easily understood, whether it’s being administered to children or prisoners, the effects of repeated torture go on into the future. The aftershocks go on and on, whether it's alter boys or the wrongfully imprisoned. Torture inevitably poisons the future.

Malcolm Nance served as a counter-terrorism and intelligence consultant for the U.S. government. In his own military training he was subjected to waterboarding. In his testimony before a House committee devoted to examining torture and enhanced interrogation techniques, Nance said: "[Waterboarding] is an overwhelming experience that induces horror and triggers frantic survival instincts. As the event unfolded, I was fully conscious of what was happening. I was being tortured."

Sen. John McCain once said of waterboarding: "It isn't about whether someone is really harmed or not. It's about what kind of a nation we are."

It's been 63 years since 10 prominent Nazis were executed, having been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials that followed World War II. Their fate said for all to see that in the civilized world, even during war, torture is going to be viewed as a crime against all people.

Today our representatives are being watched by millions all over the world who have an interest in seeing how America handles an issue so difficult to look at.

It's time to stop averting our eyes from what pain and deprivations are being inflicted on the powerless, however they got that way. Good Americans of all political persuasions need to steel themselves. Clearly, it's time to see the only way to put behind us what wrongs have done to the victims is to examine the details honestly.

Then justice must be served.

3 comments:

John Doe said...

Brilliant "argument"--1) waterboarding is ineffective; 2) question their motives (CLASSIC!); 3)compare it to child abuse (why not compare it to the devil and Hitler, ooops, never mind, you did later); 4) appeal to authority (Malcomb Nance says it's torture, so it must be!); and 5) jump on the bandwagon! No reasonable person, ever, could possibly disagree with you! Now why didn't I think of that?

F.T. Rea said...

John Doe,

Thanks for the comment. I almost wish I knew what it meant.

Paul H said...

Justice/Revenge. It's hard to tell the difference sometimes.

How far back should war crimes trials go? Vietnam?, Korea? WWII?

Foriegn policy is like sausage, most poeple don't want to know.