Posts Tagged ‘torture’

I had planned to begin this afternoon’s posts with the absolutely preposterous notion of Donald Trump as a serious contender for the Office of President of the United States (yes, we are truly there, folks), but then I read some of the crazy things Ted Cruz has been saying lately and I simply had to begin with the second best.  *cough*

This is a long, but very good Rolling Stone article on what’s wrong with Ted Cruz.

You may think I’m just a Democrat dumping on one of the Republican candidates because, well…I can, but I actually have had some education in this area (focused primarily in foreign policy) and I truly do have an interest in the growth, development, health, perception, and sustainability of our country.  I think that many people are concerned with those things; I just don’t believe that everybody considers the consequences of the actions of those in leadership roles.

On to Mr. Cruz.  If you didn’t read the article at the link, I’ll give you a taste.  From the first paragraph:

“In no particular order, Texas senator and Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz has: said acts of Christian terrorism stopped centuries ago, forgetting the Ku Klux Klan and the shooting in Colorado last week; claimed he has never met an anti-abortion activist who advocates violence, despite being endorsed by one just days before; dismissed the need for Planned Parenthood because there isn’t a shortage of “rubbers” in America; and made an offhand comment that Colorado mass shooter Robert Dear could be a “transgendered leftist activist.” All this in just the last week.”

I could write an entire book on the points in that paragraph, but I’m not going to waste my writing life on that.  I would like to focus here, instead, on something I read in ThinkProgress today about a statement Cruz made on torture. Torture is a subject I know a little about and hold very strong opinions on.

The link:

The quote from the article:

“America has never engaged in torture and we’re not about to,” Cruz responded after being asked whether he would engage in torture, enhanced interrogation, and waterboarding by the show’s three hosts.

There is a lot more in the article worth reading and I encourage you to do so.  This single statement, though, if you know nothing else about Ted Cruz, tells you all you need to know about his character and how he will serve as President of the United States.  And if you are a compassionate, honest, ethical individual, you will run as far from this candidate as you can.

The definition of torture (from Article 1, Part 1 of the Geneva Convention):

  1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Ted Cruz does not even know what the correct definition of torture is, so he cannot say that we don’t engage in it.  Amnesty International has investigated and documented repeated violations of the UN Convention Against Torture by the US since 9/11:

So, either Ted Cruz is a liar or he’s just stupid.  Since he’s well-educated and a US Senator with a lot of experience, I suspect it’s the former.

But even before 9/11, the United States has been deeply involved in the use and training of torture methods for years.  Take, for example, the work of the School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).  Located at Fort Benning, GA, it is a combat training school for soldiers (rebels) in Latin America. There is a long history of country destabilization, torture, rape, assassination, and other atrocities committed by the graduates of the SOA, which are all trained by the US Army and followed instructions for years compiled in what are now known as the CIA Torture Manuals.  More can be read here:

and here:

And if that is not enough, I’m wondering if Mr. Cruz has read even the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on the CIA’s Use of Torture? It determined that, not only did the US engage in torture, but that the use of torture was not, in fact, useful in obtaining factual and helpful information.

Oh, and yes.  It also determined that waterboarding meets the definition of torture.  As if we actually needed a whole committee to tell us that.

Given Ted Cruz’s position on all of the non-torturing that we’re doing, I wonder how he thinks about and will handle – as President – all of our non-poverty and our non-mental illness and our non-mass shootings and all of the other bad and awful stuff that’s not happening.

I hope that there are enough people eligible to vote who are able to see through this politician’s rhetoric and make a choice for someone who will bring hope and a peace back into this country and its citizenry.

<a href=”″>Roses 2</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;




I finally sat down and watched the Republican debate the other night thinking that, by now, there may be some intelligent discussion about issues and fewer insults among the candidates.  It did seem to be a little more civilized, and I actually heard some real debate (although to call it intelligent would be stretching it a bit) about a few of the primary hot topics on the ticket this year.  It was a definite improvement over the playground antics of the last few Republican debacles I saw.

Still, from the very beginning, this pre-election posturing has created serious doubt in my mind about the health and future development of this nation domestically and as a vital partner in the global family.

Over and over again Donald Trump and the other candidates have demonstrated, not only a lack of basic knowledge in the areas of international law, foreign policy, and diplomacy, but they have shown that they have no respect, care, and even less understanding for the general populace of this country. They are unable for even two hours to have a reasoned debate on serious issues that mean life and death to many people without resorting to insults and name-calling.  And above all else, they display not only disrespect but contempt for President Obama, and in an almost proud way.  Not one of these men deserves to be the president’s butler.  

Assuming, though, that one of them will be the presidential candidate, I have been trying to figure them out by how they stand on the issues.  Not an easy task when much of their chatter is about bashing one another and deflecting the important questions.

Both Trump and Cruz have clearly stated they will make torture standard operating procedure in times of war and when dealing with terrorists. During the debate on February 6 in New Hampshire, Trump declared that he’d bring back waterboarding and “worse.” Cruz spent a lot of time explaining (incorrectly) that waterboarding is not, by legal definition, torture.

I’m focusing on this particular issue because it not only speaks to the characters of the people involved, but the decisions that are made regarding the use of torture will have ramifications for everyone involved, not just the terrorists we capture. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Also, the public isn’t always aware of the specifics of the legalities surrounding torture and politicians often take advantage of that to influence their vote.

Torture is illegal at all times under international law.  Period.  The fact that we happen to live in the United States does not give us any special privilege or right to commit torture. Period.  Just because we have been attacked by someone does not give us the right to torture someone we think may have information about the attack. In fact, it’s been researched and proven that torturing someone for information does not elicit useful, usable data.

Trump either doesn’t know this, or doesn’t care and was simply trolling for voters on Saturday, “‘You can say what you want,’ he said [again] on Sunday. ‘I have no doubt that it does work in term[s] of information and other things.'”

Cruz has limited knowledge as to what constitutes torture, defining it as: “…excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems…” (Saturday debate) and claims that waterboarding does not fall under the definition.

The full definition follows:


“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2)“severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—


the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;


the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;


the threat of imminent death; or


the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality…”
Waterboarding does fall under the definition of torture.  I wonder if any of our esteemed politicians  has ever read the Convention Against Torture or the US Laws prohibiting torture.  I am actually reading The Official Senate Report on CIA Torture – I am beginning to wonder if anyone in the senate even read it.  It seems that, if one is planning to make policy change about it, one should know what laws he plans to violate.
In just this one instance, candidates who show their “patriotism” and anger toward the enemy by demonstrating a desire for brutal and painful payback will only be escalating the violence and hate that is perpetuated toward us. Because if we capture and systematically torture and otherwise inhumanely treat suspected prisoners and terrorists, there is no reason other countries cannot and will not do the same. We have forces stationed in far more countries than anyone else does in the world.  The argument we make is that we are simply doing it for our security.  Who is to say they are not doing it for their own, as well?
We need someone with intelligence, experience in foreign and diplomatic affairs, knowledge of international law, the understanding that there will be times others may need to be consulted and the humility to say “I don’t know,” and someone who is not going to indiscriminately bomb a country based on information gathered that could be suspect.  And we need someone who knows how to talk to people as equals, without judging.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling very hopeful.

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:

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 – (  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.

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: