I must give credit where credit is due. Tonight I had an almost epiphanic realization on the use of torture by the U.S. to gain information vital to national security.
The US Senate voted 90-9 early last month to attach an amendment authored by Republican Senator John McCain to a defense-spending bill that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment of detainees in US custody.
I am a big fan of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show and tonight’s episode had Senator John McCain as a guest. Stewart briefly mentioned the Senator’s captivity and abuse in Hanoi but McCain’s focus was on his bill to prevent torture. McCain made a point that made me step back and reconsider my stance on pro-torture.
First, I must clarify that I think torture, however you want to interpret it, should be able to be a tool to gain information that could prevent harm or death to others, more specifically, administered to terrorists. The Geneva Convention already has a law in place to protect POW’s. The back of my military ID says Geneva Convention Category 2, which I assume translates to a chart that my captors would have taped to their wall in the interrogation room.
McCain’s amendment extends that courtesy to “detainees in US custody”. Let me see, where do we have detainees in US custody?
The Senator from AZ commented on a parallel between the use torture and the State of Israel. Specifically, Israel does not use torture and it passed a law in 1999 prohibiting its use. McCain goes on to say that if Israel can refrain from torture, given the environment they live in where terrorists attack them daily, then why can’t the US?
Stewart then brought up that torture only works on TV and in the movies. It seemed like a good argument but, as I always do when I run into a conflicting opinion, I decided to check some of the facts from the interview.
I was surprised to see the amount of returns I got when I did a google search for “Israel torture ban”. To my surprise I found a lot of articles to the contrary. I thought that this claim seemed a little Pollyanna-ish. That’s like saying rappers have united to strike the “N” word from all their music.
In reference to torture not being effective except in Hollywood I would also have to disagree. Although McCain is a testament to the strength and resiliency of POW’s not all POW’s are the same. And now I must step back and use some proper terminology. You see, the GC reserves humane treatment for POW’s and terrorists do not fall under that category of wartime prisoners. Perhaps we haven’t been attacked in 4 years because of the techniques we are using to extract information?
The more I thought about it the more pissed off I got at the Senator. I can hear the rebuttals now:
“If we use torture we are no better than the terrorists”
Wrong. This is an argument meant to divert thinking away from protecting ourselves and turn it towards a pseudo-moralistic code or even worse, to instill an almost insane sense of guilt. Are we to be no better than the person who is executed for raping and killing a 10-year old girl? Of course we are. Imposing or enforcing capitol punishment does not put that person on the same level as the person who is being executed.
“We have an image to uphold to the rest of the world and using torture tarnishes that image.”
Why should we give a shit? Seriouysly, how many countries help us when our asses are handed to us? The help we give the world is grossly out of proportion to the help we receive.
Show me a moral objection in the use of torture for self-defense. People are quick to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in the name of self-defense. Why do people get so bent when it is used to safeguard our nation? I addressed this issue in a previous blog post so I will let that horse lie.
If torture is used, however, for crying out loud people leave the cameras at home.