Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Torture in the US

Alright, I'm going to branch out with this blog. It's going to include my opinions now!

So I only discovered yesterday... or possibly today, I don't really remember... that torture has actually been happening in the United States? Since when is this a thing, and why did I not know until today? Or yesterday, I don't really remember?

Here's one of the most fundamental ideas our supposedly-moral society is based on: torture is bad. It's a horrible way of extracting information. Sure, it's effective, but it's a violation of basic human rights. And we like those, we're supposedly a country that supports them (even though it often seems quite the opposite).

This article is a brilliant look at Dick Cheney's defense of torture -- even saying those words makes me want to cry. The fact that we can even consider defending torture, this horrible practice, and that we tolerate people defending it, says a lot about society.

Now, that article shows a little bit of Dick Cheney's discussion with Chuck Todd, whose Wikipedia page informs me is a journalist. He asked some pretty good questions, but in my opinion he was much too gentle.

CHUCK TODD: So if an American citizen is waterboarded by ISIS are we going to try to prosecute for war crimes?
DICK CHENEY: He's not likely to be waterboarded, he's likely to have his head cut off. It's not a close call. ...
CHUCK TODD: If another country captures a U.S. soldier, the Iranian regime, water boards--
DICK CHENEY: Chuck, he--
CHUCK TODD: --is that going to be an accepted--
DICK CHENEY: --you're trying to come up now with hypothetical situations.
 Chuck Todd should have pursued that further. He should have pressed Cheney to give a real answer. Instead, he didn't. He let it slide and moved on to other things.

The time has come and gone to talk about this gently. We talked about it gently when torture in the U.S. was merely a suspicion some people had. We let the Dick Cheneys sidestep our questions. But now, now that we know that the U.S. has tortured people, it is time to stop being gentle. When they try to sidestep a question, you should grab them and hold them in place. These are important questions and we can't let them go unanswered.

Let's look at what he didn't. What if another country captured a U.S. soldier? What if ISIS captured a soldier and waterboarded him? Even though this is apparently "unlikely" - which to me doesn't make sense either - what would the U.S. do? If they're taking the stance that Cheney is taking, then they'd say "oh well, they're torturing him, that's perfectly fine so we'll allow it to happen." We cannot allow that to be the U.S's stance toward torture. It is not an okay thing. It is not a useful tool. Torture is a cruel but, alas, increasingly usual punishment.

They even admit they may have tortured innocent people.

Where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are -- ...
I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent….
I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11.
Please, allow me a moment to mourn the death of morality.

What the hell is this? Is he saying it's alright if you torture a few innocent people if it helps you get to the actual terrorists? Submitting people who have done nothing wrong to horrible torture just because you have a slight hunch that they may have had something to do with it?

That's like someone shooting everyone in a town because he knows that a few of them are criminals. Can the man be justified? No! The answer is obvious to us. Why isn't it in this case?