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-On Torture

For more info, please watch the documentary Torturing Democracy

In An American Gulag, Will Grigg writes:

"--It's important to understand that almost all of the misery Kurnaz endured at Guantanamo came after he had been cleared of any connection to terrorism. As early as February 2002, German intelligence officials had concluded that there was no "direct" evidence that he was involved in terrorism; a September 2002 memo written by a German intelligence officer confirmed that Kurnaz was among the "considerable number" of Gitmo detainees who were "not part of the terrorist milieu."

Another document dated September 26 of that year reported that "the U.S. sees Murat Kurnaz's innocence as established" and predicted that he would be freed within six to eight weeks." By this time, however, three governments -- those in Washington, Berlin, and Ankara -- had decided that freeing Kurnaz without forcing him to admit to something was simply unacceptable.

As one of Kurnaz's fellow detainees, a man named Nuri, observed: "Do you think they'll simply let us go, after all they've done to us?"

So for nearly four more years, this innocent man was beaten, starved, tortured, subjected to endless persecution in the form of interrogations designed to elicit perjured self-incriminating testimony. On September 30, 2004 -- two years after his innocence had been established -- Kurnaz was brought before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal staffed with officers who had access to the exculpatory 2002 memoranda. That august panel designated Kurnaz an "enemy combatant" on the basis of "evidence" it didn't deign to share with the detainee or his assigned military lawyer, who was utterly inert during the proceedings

In January 2005, federal district Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that the Combatant Status Review Tribunal had violated every known principle of due process in summarily designating detainees as "enemy combatants" on the basis of flimsy, classified, or suppositious "evidence." Judge Green took particular notice of Kurnaz's case as illustrative of the abuses committed by that system...."

I find myself wondering what country I’m living in. That it’s necessary to enumerate reasons why it’s wrong to torture people seems, for lack of a better word, insane. But since it is apparently necessary, I’ll list three reasons that come immediately to mind

One: Torture is a tool used by the lowest scum of the earth. Use torture and you join the ranks of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedung and all the rest. A wise man once said: “If you fight evil with evil, then evil always wins.” Amen to that.

Two: Torture is really good at producing ONE thing: confessions. Confessions eliminate the need for evidence. (Most human beings will confess to anything if tortured long enough - It makes no difference whether they’re a suspected heretic, witch, or enemy combatant.)  Once a nation accepts this type of “justice system,” full-blown despotism is only a stone’s throw away.

Speak out against the torture regime? Dare to challenge its policies? You might as well declare yourself a person who cares nothing for the safety of the nation. You might as well declare yourself a “terrorist sympathizer.” (Now, it is YOU who is the suspect.)  Off to the gulag with you and your kind; where “evidence” of your evil plots (confessions) will be gathered via the enhanced interrogation techniques described in the article above. 

“Leaders” that seek to employ these tactics are morally bankrupt and dangerous. For those naïve enough to believe otherwise, history stands ready to correct any misconceptions. Nobody is safe in a nation ruled by criminals. (Stalin's purges provide a quick case in point.) 

Three: If the thought of innocent people being SOLD into secret dungeons and held without charges doesn’t bother you; if the idea of those same people being tortured (sometimes to death) doesn’t bother you; if you’re so hopelessly terrified that the thought of desecrating everything enshrined in our Constitution doesn’t bother you, maybe this final fact will. These policies will never secure the “justice and safety” that proponents claim.  In fact, the reverse is true. They perpetuate injustice and make us less safe at home and abroad.

I received the letter below - It seems like an appropriate way to end this article.

As a former military officer who underwent training to resist coercion and torture I have a few thoughts on the matter. If I had a prisoner whom I believed was part of a group that was about to kill my men I would be tempted to use coercion. Having said that, I would fully expect to face punitive consequences if such were conduct was revealed.

Under no circumstances should our country ever codify the use of torture. Seeing as how our government has violated so many laws on searches, reading of rights, access to attorneys, etc., any law that permitted non-life threatening or non-maiming coercion would be quickly perverted. I would go so far as to say that except for the 3rd Amendment, there’s no Bill of Rights left, or for that matter a democratic Republic under the rule of constitutional law.

I'm so harsh on this matter that in the civil arena I believe that any police officer, investigator, technician, prosecutor, or judge that frames a person, falsifies or withholds evidence, or otherwise causes such an injustice should face the same penalty as their victim, up to and including the death penalty. Some claim that would put a chill on police work. If so then I would favor a deep freeze.

If the matter happens to be a case of an honest mistake, then the government must compensate the victim or his family in such a significant manner that it hurts the budget, and the guilty parties should at least lose their jobs. But then as a naive curmudgeon I believe that the purpose of government is to protect individuals. Yes, I realize that the reality is that government’s prime purpose is to protect itself. -Bob, Omaha NE

Joe Plummer 5.9.08
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