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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/6/11

The Current Debate Over The Use of Torture

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With the killing of Osama bin Laden has come a renewed debate on the value of torture.

To some people particularly those who initially authorized its use, notably former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo (the man who drafted the infamous "torture" memos giving the use of "enhanced interrogation" the "legal" cover requested by his bosses in the Bush administration) and those of his ilk believe the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, growling dogs, slamming into walls et al   conducted by American interrogators gave them the ability to piece together the whereabouts of bin Laden and develop the plan to take him out.

However, many retired and former CIA and FBI interrogators strenuously object saying the use of torture produces nothing of value (actionable intelligence) and more often leads to misleading intelligence (as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the admitted mastermind of 9/11). Those tortured will also resort to say what they think their interrogators "want to hear" just to stop the barbarism they are being subjected to.

Torture of course in not a new phenomenon. But it was formally associated with (but certainly not confined to) autocratic, dictatorial regimes. The Japanese used torture during W.W.II as did Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, Lon Nol in Cambodia and more recently Qaddafi in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt, Pinochet in Chile to name some of the more were notorious practitioners.    

  It was seen by Americans (and most of the world's peoples) as barbaric. It's been condemned and outlawed by the U.N. as a crime against humanity. Besides it was believed (naively it appears) to be a practice we would never stoop to use and antithetical to our "supposed" democratic principles.

Well the "official" pronouncements emanating from this White House (as well as his predecessor) that "we don't torture" is nothing but pure propaganda. Not only do we practice torture we are doing it on a wide scale believing (one supposes) that we are somehow immune from being held to account i.e. not a member of the World Court (though a judge in Spain has attempted to file charges of crimes against humanity against former members of the Bush administration [namely former V.P. Cheney] who have openly admitted they authorized it, thus far nothing concrete has developed).

As to American attitudes today on our use of torture it appears most people accept it. There have been no loud outcries or widespread demonstrations (other than anti war opponents) against its use. Even those pictures of G.I.s torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq didn't sufficiently arouse the American public to demand those officials who approved the torture of detainees be held to account (if the public's general acquiescence and passivity to its use is any guide).

9/11 didn't change the world, but it appears to have hardened many Americans attitudes who seem to have bought into the "official" propaganda on our use of torture and the triumphalism by the media to our military's "daring do".      

One supposes now after that fateful day almost 10 years ago that "all" the cards are on the table, including the "genie" of torture.

  These acts of barbarism let loose by the Bush administration have continued unabated with the present administration. The advent of Barack Obama has essentially changed nothing.


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