I have always found it interesting that the United States has marketed itself as a moral lighthouse to the American people and to the rest of the world, yet embraces torture – and even lies about it. I think it’s kind of one of those things that people just pretend isn’t happening or even if they know it is happening they just ignore it. It’s not even an assumption that torture is happening and has happened. Techniques like water-boarding, sleep deprivation, face slapping, standing in awkward positions for prolonged periods of time, and worse are just the documented and accepted methods of interrogation used by the CIA. I question if there are worse.
Torture doesn’t work anyways:
Some people justify torture of supposed terrorist because they believe the information gathered during the process protects the innocent, but evidence shows that simply isn’t true – and even if it was true should we defile our morals in any situation to gather information and inadvertently create new enemies. In fact, numerous studies show that “Extreme pain and stress can actually impair a person’s ability to tell the truth”. Even when the informants did give up information, it is often unreliable. As one CIA officer wrote ““Torture [at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information. Everyone [at the CIA] was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” (re: Torture provides bad information)So why do we ignore hard science and keep doing torturing anyways? Does it make us feel safer – it shouldn’t.
You reap what you sew:
If the moral and scientific implications aren’t severe enough for you then consider our own troops. It’s no secret that retaliation is a popular result of our actions. Is it so far fetched to believe that our own troops who may become prisoners of war may be tortured just to spite the American military for the treatment of our enemy’s soldiers? I would be much more comforted knowing that the United States was a country of morality and justice to set an example rather than one who provokes or at very least sends the message to the rest of the world that torture is a valuable asset. Why encourage torture on any level? This point doesn’t matter though, what matters is our own moral compass and what America is supposed to stand for.
What type of country do we want to be? One that will treat our enemies like sub-humans or one that could rise above the violence, even in time of crisis, and show civility. I remember during the GOP debate in October of 2011 when Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, and Mitt Romney all agreed that the CIA agreed upon methods of torture were only “enhanced interrogation methods”. I found it ironic that the most self proclaimed evangelicals were willing to accept methods of torture and war – I suppose that is exactly what Jesus teaches in the bible. How can we morally or spiritually accept torture? We can’t!
The Empathy Gap:
One study suggest that there is an empathy gap that causes people to downplay the severity of certain methods of torture. (re: Empathy Gap encourages torture) The basic idea is that if you have never experienced such a thing then you can’t relate, so you may downplay the events severity. For example, if you have never been locked in a cell for 24hrs a day, sleep deprived for days, and water-boarded – you may not consider it torture.
In fact, it’s not surprising that many conservatives with torture experience like Jon McCain, who has actually been tortured, agrees that these are all methods of torture. Another neoconservative ally, Chris Hitchens, agreed only after trying for himself, that waterboarding was in fact torture saying “believe me, it’s torture”. (re: Chris Hitchens gets waterboarded) So maybe a few congressman and CIA agents should try out these methods for themselves before declaring “it’s not that bad”. Not to mention torture doesn’t work anyways.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves:
Torture doesn’t work and even if it did we still shouldn’t do it. The moral consequences are far too grave. The facts are this: Torture is immoral, ineffective, and dangerous. We have someone misinformed ourselves about the facts and given up our very morality to feel a little safer. It’s all in vein. Torture has given the enemy more cause to fight, more fuel to hate their enemy, excuse to torture our troops, and a basic deterioration of our military values. There are more effective means of gathering information and it is vital we set a good and just example for the rest of the world. At this point, we are failing at both.
Support political leaders who oppose torture and have a serious talk with yourself about the cost of a war that we shouldn’t be involved in anyways.