Skip to comments.Torture: Thinking About the Unthinkable
Posted on 07/01/2004 8:41:50 PM PDT by quidnunc
The mortification of Iraqi prisoners by American military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad has been discomfiting far beyond the impact of the now-infamous images. Coupled with other reports about harsh post-9/11 tactics to garner information from captured terrorists, and with ongoing investigations into deaths alleged to have occurred in connection with interrogations, Abu Ghraib and the reaction to it have forced front and center a profound national evasion: the propriety of torture.
As one would expect, the scandal has produced no small amount of righteous indignation. The civil-libertarian lobby, operating in overdrive, has issued ringing declarations that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances; accused the Bush administration of giving a green light to the humiliation of captives; and demanded the jettisoning of established international norms in favor of protocols codifying new rights for mass murderers. The financier George Soros, who has thrown millions of his billions behind various left-wing causes, recently proclaimed that Abu Ghraib was the functional equivalent of the 9/11 attack, only committed this time by the United States.
On the other side, deep disapproval of the abuse has been joined to brave talk about how we must make allowances for a "new kind of war," and to reminders that Abu Ghraib under American malefactors was a day at the beach compared with Abu Ghraib under Saddam and his ghouls and that our terrorist enemies, instead of stripping their captives naked and leashing them like dogs, tend to behead them instead. This is all true, as far as it goes, but it has been largely unaccompanied by any examination of the key question namely, what are, and what are not, appropriate methods of interrogation? Appropriate, that is, according to American values and not the values of humanitys basest elements.
Finally, there are the centrists, who well understand that our enemies are covert operatives bent on killing us in sneak attacks, and that the only way to foil them is to get information about who they are and when and where they will strike next. Unfortunately, zealots inspired by Islamic militancy and willing to immolate themselves in suicide assaults are not likely to share their secrets under the comparatively mild duress of humane captivity. Thus, the centrists figure, there is probably some necessary torture afoot which they think wrong, or at the very least unsavory, but from which they would prefer to avert their gaze.
This is all, as I say, to be expected. If the spectacle of ruthless mass murder à la 9/11 evokes blind vengefulness in some, in others it triggers deep-seated habits of denial or self-blame. In the meantime, the mere mention of torture is enough to engender disquieting thoughts of the dark brutality of which men (and women!) have historically shown themselves capable. Under the circumstances, rationality is not a good bet to rule the day. Nevertheless, it is where any discussion of the terrorist threat and how to deal with it must begin and end.
(Excerpt) Read more at commentarymagazine.com ...
By available accounts, Abu Ghraib abuse was not even close to torture - it was more like admonitory persuasion done by amateurs.
Author offers a clear explanation of the relationship of the USA in regards to the Geneva Convention and Protocol 1.
Heck...he even uses Alan Dershowitzes' book in our favor.
you can't tell me that 99% of New Yorkers wouldn't hold your coat if a terrorist was caught on the verge of participating in another attack in their city, and might have information on stopping it.
anyone watch that TV series "24"? the situations were all too plausible, and most viewers were probably shouting at their TVs, "RACK 'EM!"
When some Ph.D in Information Retrieval proposes torturing a suspected terrorist's infant nephew to make the bad guy talk, there will be plenty of shills who love life more than righteousness demanding the technique be researched and perfected, for we can't let any possible avenue of self-defense be ignored. America the Virtuous, indeed.
Any governmental agency set up for torture will nigh inevitably seek to expand its size and purview. Even the Fed workers' union might get in on the expansion act. One hundred years from now, if the Republic still lives(though I worry it is already dead), we may very well be stuck with an agency eager to continue on in existence, even if the terrorist threat is long past. I can see the reasoning now: we can torture terrorists, but not organized crime figures or drug lords? Why are we letting legal cavils get in the way of protecting our communities?
And no doubt certain leftists are drooling for the chance at getting their hands on a torture-approval bureaucracy, what with all the eco-terrorist corporations, cultural terrorist Eurocentric patriarchs, and of course all those totalitarian personalities in the churches. But they'll never, ever, get to be in charge, and besides, the state will be run by Republicans--the principled, Grown Up Party.
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