Monday, November 10, 2008

Just can’t make it Christian

Finally, after reassuring the people of America and the world that “The U.S. does not torture, it’s against our morals,” suddenly last year, President Bush, on national television admitted that the CIA does indeed operate secret prisons abroad and that “alternative methods of interrogation” are being used.

Now, he wants legislation to legalize what he says he is not doing and he wants immunity from prosecution of those who sanction the use of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment. He also aims to prohibit the federal courts from intervening in these activities which he says over and over we are not doing.

If I sound angry, it’s because I am. It is offensive to me that America, the country that I love because of its high ideals and morals now has a President, Secretary of State and Attorney General dedicated to defending torture. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of prolonged sleep deprivation, starvation, stress positions, beatings and waterboarding. Our own State Department has condemned Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uzbekistan for their cruel treatment of political prisoners while all the time secretly out sourcing our accused to them to be tortured on our behalf.

How in the name of God does our President justify the torture of human beings. Are they not still the children of God? He has the power to issue executive orders that declare none of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of which the U.S. is a signatory apply to us, but he cannot do so while wearing his Judeo-Christian badge of which he is so proud. Can he in his wildest imagination see Jesus holding down some poor victim and doing things to him to cause him to tremble, beg or scream? Does our President even think it works?

Several years ago in a book about Israel, I wrote, “The torturer under any circumstances is always wrong.” Israel tortures its political prisoners and has done so for years. My fear is that the more we act like Israel, the more we should be prepared to live like Israel and I don’t know any country where it is less safe to live today than Israel. Torture, including the “ticking bomb” scenario, does not work - for two reasons.

First: The torturer makes at least four assumptions: One, that he has the right guy and that the person in our hands knows that there is a bomb and where it is. Two, that his friends did not move it when he was captured. Three, that the good guys can get to it while it is still ticking and will be able to disarm it, and four, that the victim’s words are reliable and not just anything said to stop the pain. Those who study this kind of thing say that very little information gained under torture is trustworthy. That is why it is not admissible in civilized courts.

Second: Torture is a losing calculation. While finding one bomb, it generates enough hatred and resentment to produce thirty more bombs. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and secret prisons have become the rallying cry for bomb planting terrorist. Every time we torture, we set up our own troops in Harms way to be tortured.

Bottom line: It just plain wrong and cannot be justified by the God of our western faith. I know there is a risk, but we cannot torture, not because of who they are, but because of who we are.

Thomas L. Are

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