Monday, May 11, 2009

Tidbits on Torture

I summarized most of the news on torture in a previous post. Since this is an issue I am particularly attuned to I comb a couple dozen items a day on the subject. The frequency of reports and commentary about torture are increasing, not decreasing, which I take as a good sign that we are not going to sweep this stuff under the carpet.

One point which came up in the comments was whether torture was an effective deterrent - ie: does it discourage terrorism by frightening our enemies? On the contrary, a recent statistical study suggest that there countries which torture more also experience more terrorism (both of the domestic and transnational variety). This is consistent with other studies about the abuse of human rights and terrorism as well as capital punishment and violent crime. The lesson should be obvious: violence begets violence.

Another significant comment on the subject of torture came from Hussein Rashid who wonders why there has been such deafening silence from American Muslims on the issue. He then went on to rectify that problem by issuing a public statement on behalf of the American Muslim community (which is gathering many signatures) condemning the use of torture on the basis of Muslim beliefs.

John Winn argued for the Washington Times that there will be no prosecution because no laws have been broken, and that no American Jury would convict because the defense would just have to play video of 9/11 over and over. Scott Horton disagreed strongly, pointing out that there have been multiple homicides under the torture program by both CIA and military. Andrew Sullivan, also rightly remarked that such a defense would make a mockery of the entire justice system. Does every crime have to be worse than 9/11 to be illegal now? Is 9/11 sufficient justification for any kind of depravity? Have we really sunk so low?

And in case you think the push for prosecution is a liberal witch-hunt, remember that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the entire torture program back in '02. There are no good guys in this mess. It is just a giant disgusting debacle, and it gets worse every day that we avoid actually holding ourselves accountable.


Jodie said...

"holding ourselves accountable."

That's not a phrase that exists in the Neo-con Bush universe.

Paul Wise said...

I find it remarkable that the Republicans are so fixated on Nancy Pelosi. They don't seem to realize that this is not about political sides: if prominent Democrats knew what was going on but did nothing to stop it, then they can go to hell too.