Here are a few more online-only letters on the torture debate. Find others on tomorrow's editorial page and in Sunday Forum on Sunday.
As we continue the “Is torture OK?” debate, two questions come to mind. Our ex-vice president Darth Vader, oops Dick Cheney, says that if we knew what good intelligence we got from the “harsh interrogation techniques” (I say “torture”), use of such “techniques” would be widely accepted. Sounds to me just like the age-old “the end justifies the means” argument. I thought that this concept had been swept into the trash bin of philosophy long ago.
The other point is also worn out. Some argue that if one is following orders, the responsibility for one’s actions falls on the ones giving the orders. I think the post WWII war crimes trials answer this. The conclusion of the Nuremberg trials was that each individual is responsible for his or her own actions and that “My boss said it was OK” does not fly.
Regarding the April 23 article “Advice may shield policymakers,” the severity and persistence of our CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” make it impossible to just shake our heads in disgust and put it all behind us. We now have the concrete evidence that the U.S .was torturing prisoners while President Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were denying that very charge.
I’m sure Republicans and Democrats alike are sickened and ashamed that our great country resorted to such inhumane actions. I understand President Obama’s desire to look ahead, and he has been dealing brilliantly with a tidal wave of problems not of his own making, but we don’t have to look too far back to remember our punishment for Japanese soldiers who used waterboarding on U.S. prisoners. The phrase, “We were just following orders” was not considered a valid excuse, and those soldiers went to prison. Officers with more authority were executed.
Why should U.S. policymakers not have to face similar justice? Cheney’s claim that we gained valuable information from these methods is simply impossible to defend. Multiple studies have concluded that any information given under torture cannot be considered valid, and it increases the likelihood that our own captured soldiers will be subjected to the same treatment. There must be consequences for the Bush administration’s blatant disregard of the Geneva Conventions, human rights and world opinion.
On April 22, Gwynne Dyer, an “independent journalist” in London, managed to get almost a half-page of your paper to claim that we sentenced Japanese officers to imprisonment and hanging for waterboarding our POWs. Yet history books I’ve read about this subject mention that 33 precent of our POWs died in Japanese hands, most of them from real torture, not waterboarding. If “water cure” was mentioned in the charges at all (I doubt Dyer read any of them) it was almost certainly in conjunction with vastly more serious charges.
Do you remember President Jimmy Carter? Do you remember the Church Commission? Do you remember disassembling the CIA in the seventies? Do you remember Sept. 11, 2001? Do you remember the 9/11 commission’s findings saying that we did not have sufficient human resources (spies) available who might have provided the intelligence needed to have prevented this terrorist attack?
Do you remember the murderous individuals who perpetrated that attack? Do you really feel bad about the way we gathered information, from their ilk, to enable us to prevent a future attack? After the way that these terrorists treat people and cutting off heads, etc, and do you really feel that we are the ones who have lost our moral bearings?
Are you aware that the previous administration did what it felt that it had to do to prevent any further attacks on this country? Has it occurred to you that many of our citizens might not be alive today were it not for the efforts of the previous administration in keeping the terrorists at bay and away from our shores?
So how do we thank those individuals who have kept us safe?
Why, of course, we “get Bush” and drag his people, who were responsible for our safety all those years, before congressional hearings. How sweet it is to be the winning team!
I can only think of a remark made by another former president, “Here we go again.” God help us!