A rant on the subject of torture
In 1940, George Riley Scott, a British writer, wrote a book entitled "A History of Torture." In the book, Scott reviewed not merely the history of torture, but added an analysis of the arguments used to justify torture--and why those arguments are wrong. (Note: Scott discusses waterboarding as torture that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, at pages 171-180 of his book). Reading at least some of the literature on this subject, I find the two most compelling reasons to oppose government use of torture are (1) the ineffectiveness of torture, and how guilt, extensive questioning or other non-tortuous methods are more effective at securing information, and (2) how torture distorts any sense of mercy or kindness in the community which tortures, in addition to cruelly injuring or killing those who are tortured. It's quite breathtaking that our Founders who led the enactment of the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution against "cruel and unusual punishment would instantly recognize what is wrong with the arguments from those now trying to justify the use of torture after the events of September 11, 2001.
What we read, hear and see today among the pro-torture crowd is nothing new, as Scott recognized. Also, the arguments pro-torturers have asserted have been rejected by various international laws codified as recently as twenty years ago under Ronald Reagan (whose support for killers of priests and nuns apparently had its limits).
Glenn Greenwald, who cites in his blog post linked to above, the Reagan endorsed prohibitions of torture, also links to this smackdown of Charles Krauthammer by Washington Post writer Dan Froomkin. Krauthammer's second argument is precisely the type of argument that would legitimize torture.
I also find it troubling, yet strangely amusing, to learn that those who are ritually religious in attending weekly religious services are more likely to support torture. This finding, if true, turns on its head Dennis Prager's often made argument about ritualistically religious people being more "moral." And for those who fit that finding, let's ask them: If God is all powerful and plays even a small role in protecting and guiding us, then why not let God decide whether to torture someone? The contradiction that is glaring in such ritualistic religious people is, in fact, reconciled when we realize what animates such people is fear. These people see themselves as "hawks" and "tough," but they are not. They are afraid. They are also quite ignorant in thinking torture is only something that will happen to someone else.
But let's propose something to Krauthammer and Dick Cheney, who think torture is sufficiently effective to justify its use, and the odious Ann Coulter, who thinks waterboarding is akin to hazing or disciplining children: Let's waterboard George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and demand they confess to lying about Saddam Hussein's capacity to inflict harm on Americans or most of the world in 2002 and early 2003. Then, when we get their confessions--which the pro-torture people believe is legitimate evidence--the admissions will then be used against them in a war crimes trial. And if they are found guilty, well, I guess we'll have to execute them just like we often do with war criminals.
Oh wait. I forgot. Like so much that passes for "conservative" or "Republican" ideology, this would violate their most sacred principle: It's okay when we do bad things to others, but it's not okay when it's done to us. And these right-wingers wonder why a majority of Americans have had enough of their leadership?