Recently, a significant number of previously classified CIA documents detailing our treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere were released.
They described systematic torture - I say torture, because water-boarding is defined as torture by U.N. documents, documents which we signed and agreed with.
Past that, since when is beating someone, nearly killing them by drowning, denying them food for days, keeping them awake to the point the enter an hysterical state NOT torture, NOT objectionable, not ugly, not beneath the standards we demand of ourselves?
These are not 'enhanced interrogation techniques', they were and they are, nothing less than what we've objected to when conducted by friend and adversary alike over the past 50 years. In short, they are precisely the kinds of 'techniques' we define as in use by thugs, by police-states, by criminals.
The response from Dick Cheney and other members of the rabid-right has been, "But look, it worked, we got good data."
As if that matters one iota. As if killing 100 people is okay as long as we can say there was 'some benefit'.
But that's not the main point - the main point is this, they didn't 'enhance' one-damned thing. Torture works, that was never in doubt, it works to get data, but it mostly (according to numerous experts including our own CIA interrogators) it mostly gets you BAD information. It mostly gets you MUCH LESS than you'd get otherwise - and much less reliable information than that which is given voluntarily, or gleaned from misstatements, over time. We were in no rush, but even if we were, the odds were and are, that any such information gained would be essentially valueless as it was more likely (as not) to be a lie, to be flawed, to be in a word - ironically 'unenhanced.'
The bottom line is, we actually got less, not more.
And then there's this, we, as a result of compromising our ethics also:
- Gave our enemies more ammunition to recruit with
- Embittered the families and friends of those we mistreated
- Shattered our reputation throughout the world
For what? For nearly valueless information that almost certainly could have been gotten without torture.
No, this is about our own arrogance, our own sense of needing to 'show them who's tough' by beating prisoners, by drowning them leading to the deaths of probably 10-15 captives due to heart failure (as reported) - we decided that despite the advice of our best experts, we (meaning the likes of Cheney within the Pentagon and the CIA - with Cheney's approval and Gonzalez's legal hijinx) WE were going to show them that the wimpy Democrats weren't in charge.
What they (and we ) didn't get is that no one was a wimp, it's just smart people don't due stupid, ineffective things, and ethical people don't achieve their goals by unethical means. Civilized nations abandoned torture not only for ethical reasons but for smart ones too, and it's time, high time, to take those who are too stupid to govern within the law, and hold them accountable to it, in the same way they said they were going to do with the prisoners they held. In short, it's time the courts meeted out justice long overdue, but not for the prisoners, but the captors.