Recent torture report shows U.S. ugly stain

We have all heard of torture, but doesn’t that only happen in movies and third world countries? No, according to a bipartisan study recently released by an 11-member panel named the Constitution Project, the United States has been participating in torture in secret prisons like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and in military bases in the Middle East.

In government speak, the torture is also called extraordinary rendition or irregular rendition. It is the apprehension and para-judicial transfer of a person from one country to another. During the United States “War on Terror” under the administration of President George W. Bush, the term became associated with U.S. practices of transferring suspects for interrogation in countries or prisons known to employ torture. The process has continued under the Barack Obama administration, though new rules have been put in place that supposedly prevent torture of abducted individuals.

This controversial subject was supposedly started after the 9/11 attacks to gain intelligence, but according to the study, there is evidence supporting that torture started as early as the Reagan era. 9/11 was over 12 years ago, and we have taken out the two major heads of the infamous al-Qaeda. Now they are dead, and we are still engaging in torture. One of the most commonly used methods of torture (and it is horrible to say even that) is “waterboarding.” According to Wikipedia, “‘Waterboarding’ is a form of torture in which water is poured over cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning. Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning (a sense of drowning do to a lack of the ability to draw oxygen into the lungs), damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage, and sometimes death. Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.”

In addition to the atrocious details of torture, the results of the practice are also questionable. Does torture produce more intelligence? Is torture used to simply produce false confessions or to exact punishments on undeserving scapegoats?

Another fallout of torture came up when I was talking with a coworker at my job. She said, “When we torture those we capture, we do put our own troops in greater danger of being tortured themselves if they are captured by the enemy. The USA is a leading nation of the world and other nations look up to us as an example of how to do things. If we demonstrate that torturing enemy captives for the ‘good’ of our nation is right, then that gives the green light to other countries to do the same thing. If we harp on about human rights and then go around severely violating them, then that just makes (America) look like a hypocritical nation.” I agree, but apparently some actual government officials disagree.

Some would argue that under conditions where time is short, the potential of saving many at the cost of exacting horrendous pain from one suspect is worth the gamble to prevent the loss of many more innocent victims of terrorists.

When I asked social studies teacher Chad Van Cleve if he believes that the good of many overrules the well-being of one, he responded: “No, it doesn’t matter the situation or circumstances. Each person is entitled to his/her civil rights, whether he/she is an American citizen or not.” The part of the Constitution he is referring to is, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Continuing with Van Cleve’s statement; “It’s unfortunate that many are put in danger, but once we open the door to torturing or anything of the like, the dominoes start falling.” Van Cleve made a great point. It’s like the adage, “give an inch, take a mile.” Once we open that door to torture, what else will we let pass do to “special circumstances”?

I want to finish with a quote from one of the Founding Fathers, a signer of the Constitution and a true patriot. Benjamin Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to ensure a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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