Well, it looks as if the flood gates are opening. The Obama admin. is releasing a slew of Bush era memos that authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation” practices. Among these are sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation/overload and various forms of humiliation… and of course the one we keep hearing about: water boarding. Before I go any further, a couple of definitions:
Torture - the act of inflicting extreme pain/damage to a person as a means of coercion, for punishment/revenge, or out of shear cruelty.
Water boarding - the act of immobilizing a person on his/her back with head inclined and pouring water over the face. Through the forced inhalation of water, the gag reflex is almost immediately excited and the subject experiences the process of drowning in a controlled environment. Water boarding can cause extreme pain and damage to the lungs, brain damage (due to oxygen deprivation), and injuries (possibly broken bones) due to struggling against restraints.
There have been murmurs about this since at least 2002, but they’ve been summarily glossed over by the Bushies who’ve declared, “we don’t do it, but reserve the right to if necessary.”
A cursory glance at anything resembling actual research data, will make it emphatically clear that torture does not produce valid actionable intelligence. Obviously, anyone enduring that kind of suffering is going to say whatever it is they think will make it stop. Water boarding in particular was developed for the Spanish Inquisition as a means of obtaining false confessions. Sleep deprivation as well has the effect of making those who suffer it highly suggestible.
So why would the Bush administration, which repeatedly denied these practices, be so adamant about reserving the right to conduct them “if necessary”?
It is now common knowledge that Bush was intent on finishing the job his dad started in Iraq, from the outset of his presidency. After 9/11 he marshaled all the resources available to identify some connection between Saddam those who attacked us. Put in this context, a disturbing realization begins to materialize. A false confession or two would be all that was needed to link Saddam to the atrocities of 9/11. It’s disgusting, but really, are you that surprised?
The release of these memos has set off a firestorm of indignation. First by those aghast at the reality that America,self proclaimed upholder of the moral status quo would stupe to torture. (Among them, in a strange twist of fate, Fox News’ Shepard Smith who went so far as to drop an F -bomb live on the air)
Then of course, by those, incredulous that we would tip our hand to the terrorists. You know how this well worn argument sounds. The invoker usually makes reference to how dangerous the post 9/11 world is and includes something about how Bush kept us safe from attack for seven years. If he’s feeling extra polemical he’ll throw in something like “liberals want to befriend terrorists”.
This rhetorical dispute has changed very little since Bush The Uniter first proclaimed you’re either with us or with the terrorists.
As much as I’d would like to see retribution against those who’ve exploited national fear for personal gains and subsequently run roughshod over our principles in the dash to loot this country; this is a moral issue. I’d hate to see it conflated with politics, as it surely would be, should any attempt be made to try those responsible for this. I’ll settle for outrage, a resolution(s) and more vigilance on the part of the public. I mean torture? WTF? That’s what terrorists do.