Saturday, April 25, 2009

The conscience of a nation

Shame Plenty of hubbub (bub) this week over the release of the torture memos and the involvement of Cheney (no surprise) and Rice (I'm so disappointed, Condi) in the condoning of torture techniques.

I'm reading everything from how President Obama will eventually be prosecuted for the attacks that are now inevitable, to the GOP stating that our nation is less safe under his leadership.

Did I miss something? Were we attacked somewhere in the past 100 days or so, and I didn't catch the coverage? I can't predict the future. I don't know what will happen in the next few years. Is it possible that we might be attacked again? Yes. Is it inevitable? No. Why do so many around the world hate us so? Maybe it has something to do with the policies of the past eight years, our rampant disregard for international diplomacy, our belligerent posturing that looks as if we are nothing more than the bully of the international schoolyard, and our ready willingness to use torture on those we've kept incarcerated for years...although they've never been charged with any crime.

Maybe? Do you think?

I'll apologize ahead of time, because I'm in full outrage mode, and pardon me, but my sarcasm is showing. But you know what? I'm not really sorry for what I write here, because I mourn what we have lost in our condoning of such techniques. Some believe that we are safe and have had no more terrorist attacks because of "harsh interrogation tactics" (AKA torture). I'm cool with gathering intelligence, and interrogation of prisoners, but from everything I've read, torture does not work. At some point, you hear what the prisoner thinks you want to hear, and then you've got false intelligence. Even John McCain, who was subjected to five years of torture as a prisoner of war, says unequivocally that we are the United States of America and we do not torture.

Does anyone seriously think that someone being tortured, who hasn't broken and divulged information after, say...150 going to finally spill on the 151st torture session? That's insanity, and everything I've read states that it is ineffective and counterproductive to continue such tactics.

Shame2 Imagine a scenario, if you will. Someone in a position of authority takes you into custody, because there is something about you that they find suspicious. You are not charged with a crime, but you are thrown into prison and you are subjected to things like being stripped of your clothing and paraded down the hall of your prison; you are not allowed to sleep for days on end; the Bible that you had in your possession is spat upon and stepped upon. You are kept this way for years. No charge. No trial. No one to take your case or to be your advocate, and no hope of being released soon.

How would you feel about that? And how would you feel about the country that did that to you?

We have done ourselves no favors with our shameful behavior when it comes to this. I don't believe that we obtained any information that resulted in stopping possible attacks, and I don't believe that this national shame has kept our country safer. On the contrary, I believe it has resulted in the sort of hatred and contempt that could fuel further attacks, and it will be years before we can regain our status as a "beacon of hope," or a country that others wish to emulate. Do you really want to be like the bully that terrorizes everyone and beats them up because of some perceived slight?

History will show that this was a policy in our country that will be a source of shame for years to come. I love my country, but I am appalled at what took place during this time. We are better than this.


I'll leave it to a Fox News reporter to say it. You heard me right.


  1. There are people in this country and in every country who enjoy torturing people and animals. It is an excitement, a passion, and as long as those people have the freedom they will do it. It requires no reason or justification. All the talk is useless.

  2. Great read, Beth. I agree wholeheartedly (as I believe all rational people will). Our government in the UK also share a portion of the blame, having requested information to be extracted from prisoners under "enhanced" interrogation. The revulsion that you feel about how the previous US administration has acted, we also feel here about our current government.

    In the decades of "troubles" in Northern Ireland, we in the UK never stooped as low in the treatment of "terror suspects" as we have since 9/11 and 7/7, and on balance, with hindsight, it's clear that we never needed to.

    An interesting piece has appeared in the Independent On Sunday, here in the UK. It's worth a read. I believe it confirms everything you're saying:

    Be well :)

  3. Bravo. Best damn entry i have ever read. I agree completely with your way of thinking. The torture will only feed future hatred from those being tortured and if they are let go they will go and spread that hate to others.

  4. I think there is a line that was crossed in the recent past. There is pressuring prisoners for information (and I do believe that some of the Gitmo prisoners gave useful intelligence) and torture. I am for pressure, but not torture. It is often to easy to move the line to meet perceived needs.

  5. Notorious closet-case Sheppard Smith isn't usually know for being truthful - but he certainly speaks the truth in this case.

    Great post.


  6. I agree with everything you say, torture must surely count as a war crime.

  7. Absolutely brilliant post!
    I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog.


  8. Well written, Beth. I do not support torture. But having said that.. the U.S. has been hated a long time.. long before Mr. Bush ever took office.

  9. I've had this conversation on a couple of different ocassions with an ex of mine, someone I am still quite friendly with, who is in Fed law enforcement.
    Do I want someone tortured because I'm angry or hurt or because I have the ability to torture them? No. THAT is a personality type, & no changing it. You can restrain those types, but I do not think you change them.

    Do I believe there are times that more than might be commonly thought of as acceptable pressure leads to the whereabouts of people or things that would resolve major, deadly and important issues? Yes, but it is a qualified Yes.
    I have yet to read ANYTHING that says something like waterboarding is "successful" in bringing about the desired result.

    So if you are compromising your core values & your convictions for something that doesn't even bring about the desired result, what the hell are you doing it for?

    Now, I don't pretend to know anything about this.

    But if my ex, a Fed, doesn't think waterboarding works & McCain says torture doesn't work, I'm fairly confident TORTURE DOESN'T WORK. ~Mary

  10. Joe and I mrented 2 movies not realizing how deep it got into the torture while Cheney and Runsfield were in office. All I can say, is NO HUMAN BEING SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE THAT. It was actually a documentery and showed Cheney, Rumsfield and Bush yukking it up at that horrible torture. I am with you Beth, on that. Lucy

  11. @ Estela, I'm curious if you know *WHY* the US might be hated? So often, I hear Americans asking "why do they hate us so much?" but it's rare that the person asking understands that there are very simple answers to that question. I'm familiar with Bush's oft-asserted "they hate us for our freedoms", but I wonder if enough Americans question that assertion or recognise it for the distortion and rhetoric that it is.

  12. We are on the same page with this issue. My heart breaks that this was allowed to go on.
    Hugs, Joyce

  13. Compromising our American values by using torture and other questionable methods of harsh interrogation is wrong. Even if it worked, it's still wrong. Thank you for this post.

  14. If I thought the ways these people did, I would take a metal bat and break every bone in the bodies of those who ever broke one of mine. The thing is I refuse to lower myself to their standards. An eye for an eye will definitely make the world go BLIND. I never thought as an American we would lower ourselves so low. (Hugs)Indigo

  15. You know that I'm in total accord with you on this. Well said.

  16. Do I want someone tortured because I'm angry or hurt or because I have the ability to torture them? No. THAT is a personality type, & no changing it. You can restrain those types, but I do not think you change them.

    Cruised down and saw what either Frank or Mary wrote ... and that is a fact. It is going to happen because people are cruel.

    As I have mentioned, I know it is wrong, but to retroactively go after a pursue folks, is wrong. As to Cheney and those folks saying that we are less safe because we don't torture, all I know is if I held Cheney to Col. Jessup's standard, he would fail. How many deferrments did he get? But he wants people to do the stuff he was too scared to do? What a puss!

    It occured to me earlier tonight talking with AKA, about torture and F&M's comment brought it back to me. I remember little boys that pulled the wings off flies and used a magnifying glass to heat up ant hills ... not to mention other crap 'kids will be kids, except when they grow up to become pathological murderers' kinds of stuff.

    Man's inhumanity to man, will insure that those who torture exist. So as long as war and killing are seen are rational solutions to our problems, it will continue to happen.

    This is a rabbit hole that keeps getting deeper and darker.


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