Well, I suppose it was predictable, but here come the torture apologists. (Or perhaps I should say the tortured apologies.) Even if torture were effective, which it is not, there is a much more fundamental reason why we, the United States, should not torture.
Because torture is wrong.
Because it’s wrong.
Because it’s wrong.
Now the apologists are going to parse the definitions. Some of them have already been on the radio saying that it isn’t “really” torture. The people who’ve always hated Bill Clinton are now employing his etymology. I guess it depends on what the definition of “is” is.
Sorry, dear apologists. As the saying goes, if it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Or as the Supreme Court famously opined in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964) about obscenity, “you know it when you see it.” So let’s be clear: what the CIA engaged in with the post-9/11 detainees was torture. Pure and simple. But if you want to argue the semantics of it, fine, let’s go ahead and take it to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, whose Article 1 reads in pertinent part:
For the purposes of this Convention, the term “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.
For any apologist to argue with a straight face that what the CIA did does not qualify as “torture” under the United Nations Convention Against Torture — as I heard some dick argue on the radio this morning — is obscenity of the highest order. I know it when I see it.
With our decision to torture detainees after 9/11 in the highly suspect and questionable effort to gain credible information, we lost the last vestige of the moral high ground that we once held so proudly after World War II. Moral high ground, may you rest in peace.