Torture and US Policy

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Recently, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the CIA’s use of torture since the attacks on September 11, 2001.  I’ve been reading various US news magazines and journals that are covering the stories online and, in particular, the comments following the articles, and am simply astounded by the reactions to the information uncovered by the Committee.

In short, the Committee determined that torture was used fairly extensively and in secret to obtain information from detainees and that the White House and Congress were mislead regarding a number of things, including the number of prisoners that were held, as well as the degree of the brutality of their interrogation and the usefulness of the techniques used in obtaining information from them.  This link provides a more thorough report of their findings:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/world/senate-intelligence-committee-cia-torture-report.html

Most of the people who responded to the articles I read expressed surprise and outrage by the news of the CIA’s involvement in systematic torture.  I’m trying to figure out what rock these people have been living under for the last 20 or 30 years.  Our government’s expertise in brutalizing body and soul began long before 9/11.  For example, anybody who has ever heard of the School of the Americas – (www.soaw.org)  now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – knows that the US has been in the business of training Latin American military soldiers in torture techniques for years and that former students from that school, located at Fort Benning, GA have been guilty of some of the most brutal crimes against humanity.  They developed and taught from the now infamous “torture manuals” used at that school and in the field, which included techniques involving everything from intense beatings to rape to execution in order to obtain the information needed from prisoners.

Why, all-of-a-sudden are we so surprised that the US has been involved in torture these past 13 years?  Because we have such high ethical standards here and a high regard for human life?  Every day it becomes more and more evident that the US and a large percentage of its population are more interested in retaliation than justice.  And besides, it has been proven, over and over again, that torture simply does not produce the results for which it was intended.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26685-that-cia-torture-methods-were-pointless-is-no-shock.html#.VIjdknt1a68

Whether or not one believes that torture is effective, though, one thing is without question.  Torture is illegal.  Let me say that again.  In international law, torture is a crime.  Both the prior and current administrations should be investigated and held accountable for any violation of that law.

This is an excellent summary of Amnesty’s position on this situation by Steven W. Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/release-of-torture-report-underscores-need-for-accountability 

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