March 27, 2015

2015: A valid criticism of the Senate Intelligence Committee


Ostensibly, the stated purpose for the resort to brutal interrogations was to obtain “actionable intelligence” and “critical threat information” to prevent a ticking bomb from detonating. That was the justification given when in 2004 the Administration was confronted with the leaked confidential report by the International Red Cross Committee that was revealed by The New York Times (Nov. 2004). However, that claim is disputed by experienced interrogators who know what works, and what doesn’t; and because no credible evidence has been found or cited showing that torture had ever prevented a “ticking bomb.” Nor is there credible evidence that torture was effective where traditional interrogation methods were not.

Nevertheless, a valid criticism of the Senate Intelligence Committee is that the committee should not have given so much emphasis in its report as to whether torture works. “The law does not prohibit torture because it is ineffective, but because it is wrong…asking whether torture works is like asking whether slavery works. It’s the wrong question.” (David Cole. OpEd, New York Times, 2015)

“The object of torture is a slave as long as the infliction lasts; a slave has no recourse against torture so long as the master chooses to inflict it… The evil consists in the ability to dominate other persons without check, the ability to do with them what you will, armed with assurance of impunity. Such a custom of acquittal or habit of non-accountability may have broad consequences in the treatment by the state of its own people…” David Bromwich. Working the Dark Side, London Review of Books, 2015)

Torture is a moral abomination. We, Americans are not allowed to torture people because we have laws against it and we have signed treaties promising that we won’t use torture. The 1994 Unite Nations Convention Against Torture, which we signed, clearly states:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

There is no legitimate excuse for torture.

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