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On Torture
Published on Saturday, September 30, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
On Torture
by Ed Kinane
 

It's frightening that, at this time and in this nation, torture must be discussed as if it were a legitimate issue. What's next -- the pros and cons of child molestation?

Even hawkish old warriors like Sen. John McCain and retired General Colin Powell say torture is counterproductive.

Numerous are the reasons -- both expedient and moral -- for eliminating torture:

~ Torture degrades and dehumanizes the torturer. That may be his problem, but that torturer comes home and becomes a husband, a father, a neighbor, a politician....

~ Torture undermines the moral stature of those who condone it. Torture loses "hearts and minds" and allies -- huge strategic mistakes.

~ Torture embitters the tortured and those who care about them. Like invasion and bombing, torture recruits "terrorists."

~ If enemy soldiers face torture upon being captured, they are less likely to surrender. Their determined resistance causes more casualties on both sides.

~ Torture is utterly inconsistent with New Testament Christianity. Jesus, who was himself tortured by invaders occupying his country, urged, "Love your enemy."

The case against torture is irrefutable. What more need be said? Why is the torture issue still alive?

The issue keeps coming up because torture keeps being exposed at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or wherever. The issue keeps coming up because the Bush administration keeps pushing torture as a "legitimate" response to "terrorism" -- a terrorism it's doing its utmost to generate. Bush Inc.'s war on Iraq is just terrorism with a bigger budget and bigger bombs.

The Bush administration didn't pioneer torture. Invaders, almost by definition, use torture. In the 20th and 21st centuries invaders favor air wars. Bombing cities -- Baghdad and Fallujah for example, is mega-torture.

The U.S. Army used torture in Viet Nam. Those techniques were secretly taught at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas in Panama and then at Ft. Benning, Georgia years before Bush became Commander-in-Chief. The difference now is that Bush brazenly seeks to legalize and institutionalize torture.

The case against torture being unanswerable, why does the "Christian" George W. Bush jeopardize his soul? Why, despite broad condemnation and despite the strategic cost, does he openly promote torture?

I'm not yet ready to accept the recently suggested hypothesis that Bush is the devil. The likelier answer is akin, but more mundane. I suspect -- but would welcome being proved wrong -- that the Bush administration is seeking to establish precedent.

If U.S. people and the U.S. Congress can be conned or scared into tolerating the torture of "enemies," this will help legitimize torture generally. On this slippery slope, we will be de-sensitized to torture wherever it occurs and regardless of the technicalities of jurisdiction.

Why would our Neo-con leaders want that? Tolerating torture abroad paves the way for torture at home. Not only will anyone designated a foreign enemy be liable to torture, but also those designated as domestic enemies, as domestic "security threats." If you don't support the you-are-either-with-us-or-against-us Bush administration, you just might end up on its enemy list.

Sound farfetched? Consider: Bush Inc., by promoting torture, puts our own soldiers at greater risk. If these war criminals dismiss the lives and rights of our own soldiers, why would they be any gentler with non-soldier U.S. citizens?

Already we have seen how Bush Inc., through illegal domestic spying and the so-called Patriot acts, and through extraordinary rendition and the suspension of habeas corpus, is no great respecter of the Constitution.

Domestic torture -- or internal terrorism as it might be called -- is business as usual for certain U.S. allies and other authoritarian states seeking to squash dissent and intimidate opposition. The Neo-cons who have captured our government know they cannot succeed in conquering the world if they don't first finish conquering the U.S.

In 1998/99 Kinane spent ten months in federal prison for writing "SOA = Torture" on the entrance sign of Ft. Benning, the home of the U.S. Army's notorious School of the Americas. Contact him at edkinane@verizon.net.

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