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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/28/11

The Odd Couple: Torture and the Truth

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Torture is ubiquitous in our world, perhaps the ultimate emblem of the new century, and its paradoxical association with truth seems inevitable.

1) Rendition exports so-called terrorists to hidden chambers of horrors in the Middle East and elsewhere, where anything goes, international law be damned, to extract "truths" out of victims who may be innocent, who will admit to anything to stop the torture. What does this lead to? More torture in the form of years of imprisonment God knows where and under what circumstances.

Oddly, I have read (sorry, I didn't take it down) that there are other ways to get the truth out of people--certain combinations of food tend to elicit honesty without torture. Why not try nutrition instead of its opposite?

2) Then there are truths exposed by natural disasters: how structures were not built to withstand them, be they earthquakes or tsunamis or hurricanes. With Katrina the levees were not built high enough; in Haiti, of course, poverty prevented safer structures, for the most part.

Regarding the present horrors assailing Japan, approaching and possibly surpassing the Chernobyl disaster, cut corners have claimed lives, destinies, the fate of ecosystems, the air, future generations, and even other countries. Cut corners consist, for example, of building a nuclear power plant without adequate consideration of possible earthquakes, let alone tsunamis and other acts of God. Wasn't Fukushima built on a land fault? Possible hazards were known but not accounted for adequately, to save money. In what pockets do those savings end up? Corporations that are not required to pay taxes in the United States?

What's in their pockets? Our future.

3) Then there are a few whistleblowers around willing to sacrifice all to spread truths--consider Bradley Manning, horrified by information about torture, among other things--information he could not allow to pass by him to the next cybersource as routine content.

Raised Catholic, did he feel obliged at some level to confess, to someone who turned out to be untrustworthy? (no offense to the Manning family's religion, but our backgrounds influence us in all sorts of ways, even when we think we've escaped them). Manning exposed the truths about the brutal methods used to extract what may be untruths from captured victims.

Manning exposed truths about U.S. overt or covert support of dictatorships that torture those they consider criminals--did this influence the outbreak of so many revolutions against dictators in the Middle East and northern Africa? Did Manning change the world? A risk is in process--support of the rebels with the hope that the governments they plan are more humane than their brutal targets. The assumption is affirmative.

Did Manning change the world by forcing us to question the meaning of transparency among governments? With absolute truth as the bottom line, the world may become a better place, if it survives the daily dangers imposed by the numerous nuclear reactors throughout the world, among other catalysts, including global warming.

Religions oppose the lying that leads to disasters at every level, caused by the same people who make a huge publicity ploy of being devout and attending religious services weekly or more often. Religion opposes amassing huge wealth and not sharing it with those less fortunate--thread Bush 43 through a needle's eye? Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?

I did not mean to ascend a pulpit. Would complete political transparency eliminate all hypocrisy? I imagine that the structure of governments would be overhauled, among other revolutions. How much of civilization is based on lies? This supposed repressor of animal instincts is controlled by beasts, M. Rousseau.

These issues have been raised before, particularly since the Manning debacle and more subtly in the case of the burgeoning disaster in Japan. Fellow human beings could have prevented them instead of causing them.

Saint Bradley, Saint WikiLeaks? Shaming the world into change, as a scholar recently proposed at the level of election integrity? That solution didn't work.

Now onto the arduous, agonizing activation of "The Emperor's New Clothes." We don't need the truth about Manning--just everything else he was brave enough to unclothe. Let the process continue and systems so stripped of their pretenses take heed and act.

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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