Sunday, April 20, 2008


As most people who read this blog already know, I am passionate about the eradication of torture worldwide. As most of the people who read this blog should know, the United States' record on torture is abhorrent. Not only does the US personally torture prisoners of war (most famously made public through the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq), we are also infamous for sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured as well as for training foreign military intelligence to use torture.

About a week and a half ago, we learned (officially) what we have been saying for years now, that "harsh interrogation techniques" used on Al-Qaeda suspects were authorized by the highest government officials of our nation. Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet, Ashcroft -- all of them, gathered in high level meetings to discuss the grim details of torture, including waterboarding. (Note: "harsh interrogation techniques" is usually code for torture, as understood by the Geneva Conventions.)

Though I am frustrated it hasn't received more coverage by them, The New York Times published an OpEd piece about it today. There's so much I could say about this, but for now, I will just remind you of one thing: torture does not work as a means of gathering information. Though it seems cool on shows like "24" it is simply not true that reliable information can be obtained from suspects through torture. No one doubts that torture produces information. Of course it does. Wouldn't you say something if you were being tortured? The problem with torture (the fact that it is immoral and cruel notwithstanding) is that it doesn't work. There are many articles/resources I could point you to on this point, this one is a good place to start if you are a "scholarly" type person. If not, just google "ticking time bomb and torture" and read what people on both sides have to say. I have no doubt that the argument for torture in this circumstance will sound silly to your ears, as it does to mine.

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