Lately our public dialogue about torture has taken a very frightening turn. No longer is it “did we or didn’t we.” Now it’s become “Yeah we did it. It worked, so it’s ok.” If the last 8 years hadn’t already numbed me to this kind of statement, I would be shocked and sickened.
Let’s presume for the sake of argument that the “enhanced interrogations: did work (and there’s much evidence to the contrary). Does that make it ok that we violated basic human rights? Does it validate our breaking of the Geneva Convention? Do the ends justify the means?
I’ve heard many people say yes, it does – we need to do whatever it takes. You know, I bet Bin Laden had some similar thoughts as he planned 9/11. But I don’t hear many people backing him up. “But he killed innocent people,” one might say. True. But let’s not forget that many of our detainees in the “War on Terror” have not been proven guilty in a court of law. Innocent until proven guilty, right?
Torture is not an American ideal. There’s a reason the US has been a beacon for the world since its inception. We are a nation of laws, of rights, of representative government. Where, theoretically at least, all men are created equal. Torture does not jive with those ideals. What would the Founding Fathers think to see a former Vice President making such statements?
There is a reason so many nations of the world (including the US) came together and signed the Geneva Convention: torture is wrong. Isn’t that one of the reasons used to support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein – that he tortured his own citizens? How about the Soviets and their forced-labor camps? The human-rights abuses of China? Or the treatment of political dissidents in Central America for so many years?
Regardless of political ideology, we should not support torture. It isn’t justified by any end. To stoop to such measures makes us no different than those we seek to defeat. The rest of the world can see that; why can’t we?