I usually like Ray Warner’s thoughtful, measured essays on the issues of the day, but he really missed it by a mile on this one. First of all, there is absolutely no evidence that torture works. There is only hearsay by the proponents of torture. These are people who are, in fact, international war criminals with a vested interest in convincing gullible and blood-lusty Americans that their disgusting means are somehow justified by ends for which they offer no proof.
Alfreda Bikowsky, for example, is one of the CIA’s biggest cheerleaders for torture (the lead character in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” was based on her) but she’s also the analyst who failed to share information that might have prevented the terror of 9-11. She is, in fact, responsible for a series of deadly blunders that Glenn Greenwald described as “a long string of significant errors and malfeasance.” She likes to talk up torture but the other stuff, not so much…
And here’s what Robert Fisk wrote on December 14, about the man who is everywhere these days defending torture, the Dark Lord himself: “Cheney wishes us to believe, of course, that these poor men gave important information to the vile creatures who were torturing them. That’s exactly what medieval inquisitions discovered when they accused the innocent of witchcraft. Almost to a man – and woman – the victims admitted that they had flown through the air. Perhaps that’s what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after being waterboarded 183 times, told his CIA torturers. He could fly through the air. A terrorist human drone.”
Our present complacency with American torture reminds me of a scene from Sidney Lumet’s 1964 movie “Fail-Safe”, where a right-wing (and self-important) professor is arguing for a nuclear sneak attack on Moscow. It goes something like this:
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: You know what you’re saying?
Prof. Groeteschele: Do you believe that Communism is not our mortal enemy?
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: You’re justifying murder.
Prof. Groeteschele: Yes, to keep from being murdered.
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: In the name of what? To preserve what? Even if we do survive, what are we? Better than what we say they are? What gives us the right to live, then? What makes us worth surviving, Groeteschele? That we are ruthless enough to strike first?
Prof. Groeteschele: Yes! Those who can survive are the only ones worth surviving.
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: Fighting for your life isn’t the same as murder.
Prof. Groeteschele: Where do you draw the line once you know what the enemy is? How long would the Nazis have kept it up, General, if every Jew they came after had met them with a gun in his hand? But I learned from them, General Black. Oh, I learned.
Brigadier General Warren A. Black: You learned too well, Professor. You learned so well that now there’s no difference between you and what you want to kill.
And that, my friends, is the ultimate argument against torture. Even if “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not about sadistic impulses to exact kinky revenge on the perpetrators of 9-11 (and, by extension, on all boogedy boogedy Muslims), once we Americans began openly doing it, there was then no difference between us and those we like to torture. None at all.
Never has the hypocrisy of our “Christian nation” exceptionalism been so exposed as it is now. Where do we, as a people who once claimed high ideals, go from here? We finally ended our genocide of indigenous populations and the practice of trading dark-skinned humans as if they were expendable farm-supply commodities. Will we now abandon our affinity for torture?
Hot Springs, Arkansas