Or, The Top Ten Reasons Why Those Who Approve Torture Deserve To Be Tortured
10. Bothersome Historical Reminders. Monty Pythonites notwithstanding, we grew up reviling historic instances of torture such as the Spanish Inquisition. Our fathers fought against the Germans for torturing victims. A major part of at least the current justification for attacking Iraq was the torture used by Saddam. Yet, the only difference from those horrifying examples and what the White House has encouraged through its chain of command seems to be a matter of degree; i.e., the Administration justifies its own barbarism on the grounds that we are not quite as nasty as they were. Since when however is the lowest common denominator the standard by which such practices should be judged?
9. Bad Precedent. If government employees find out they can get away with torture in secret, at best it sets an extremely bad example. How do we even know if those gleefully following White House’s “nudge nudge, wink wink” about interrogation techniques are torturing the "right people" since there are no trials to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt first? Do we automatically assume everyone who disagrees with state policy should be tortured just in case? What will our newly empowered torturers feel they can get away with next? Lying, theft from the treasury, and character assassination seem almost innocent in comparison.
8. Biblical Sanctions. For the religious, they need only ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” Has no one presently in the West Wing heard of the “Golden Rule,” let alone ever actually read the book from which it was derived?
7. Bill of Rights. Even if “thou shalt not commit premeditated torture” is not one of the top Ten Commandments, it’s certainly against almost everything our Bill of Rights stands for, not to mention every single court case that has ever interpreted it. Do a million words of condemnation of the practice mean nothing to those in charge these days?
6. Burdensome PR. Practicing repugnant methods of intimidation and interrogation makes everyone in the country, not only appear to either be international thugs or supporters of thuggery, but rank hypocrites as well. That severely weakens whatever moral authority we once had for persuading others. Perhaps we should be returning the Statute of Liberty to France with apologies.
5. Benefits Unproven. Worse, there is no proof that any convictions or even most confessions could not have been obtained other, less odious, ways. Over the years since American became a Torturers ‘R Us franchise, there have proven to be fewer average annual felony convictions obtained as a result of such tortures than a double amputee can count on his fingers and toes. Plus, any information gained must automatically be highly suspect.
4. Brotherhood of Man, or at least, International Law. Besides making our word on treaties like the Geneva Convention worthless, it jeopardizes our soldiers in the field giving the enemy the belief that the they need not obey the Geneva Conventions either as to those captured. No wonder enlistments are dangerously low.
3. Back to the Future. If it is permissible to use against outsiders, then why wouldn't it be permissible to be used against our own citizens at some point? Dehumanization tends to be catching, even addictive to practitioners.
2. Boundless Costs. Its costs wildly outweigh whatever “benefits” might occur whether we are looking at dollar, psychological or ethical costs. What price can be put upon our souls after admitting to torturing others, especially those later found to be innocent?
1. It’s Just Plain Wrong. Stay after school and write that on the blackboard ten times for each “detainee.” If they jailed Martha Stewart for a few thousand dollars in stock fraud, then why aren’t those who wrote the memos approving torture facing jail time?