Friday, April 19, 2013

The United States Has Tortured Terrorists

At one point, President Bush, Cheney,  and pretty much the entire GOP  claimed we did not torture.  Later they said "History will Judge us".

Well, History has spoken, they tortured.  Worse, they got nothing worthwhile from it.  Unless they are hiding stuff in classified reports - which seems stupid.   They should be doing it the other way around - hiding the stuff they got from spies by claiming they got it from torturing people.

 This information is according to the US's own Truth Commission report, a bipartisan think tank.

Please note, as I have said previously, (Previous Post)  I am not actually against the government tortuing people.  I am against the incompetent way they did the torture.

To repeat, Torture is in general a very bad idea:
  • It encourages others to vilify and hate us, by giving them real, true actual claims of evil things we did.
  • The vilification is to such an extent that it endangers our own captured soldiers.
  • It destroys our own moral standing when we demand other countries do better - both among our allies and our opponents.
  • It is VERY unreliable - the victims have good reason to lie and in general their lies can not be detected - unless of course we could have gotten the information from another method, which means that the torture was not necessary
  • Worse it does severe damage to the minds of our our agents, making them less effective.
Now, these are all good reasons not to torture, but I still see the occasional need to actually do so.  In immediate circumstances (Tell us where the bomb/little girl you buried a live, 100 trillion dollars you stole), then sometimes it is neccessary.  But those situations are very rare, are NOT the cases where we actually used torture, and we do not need to publicly embrace torture to do it then.

My opinion is that torture should be illegal, and in the EXTREMELY rare circumstances where it is neccessary, then we 1) admit we did it immediately and 2) either accept the punishment or 3) accept the pardon granted by the governor/president.  Because if you are not willing to risk going to jail for torturing someone than that torture is not necessary.   Take responsibility for your own actions.

But that is not what we do.  Instead of pardoning the torturers we hide them.

This is wrong.   Also, make note that in my opinion this is Obama's fault.  He decided not to investigate, not to arrest, and not to pardon.

Well, let's look at the consequences if he had followed my advice - have them confess and be pardoned.

  1. We would effectively change the careers of a bunch of intelligence operatives.  Note, I said change, not destroy.   They would be forced out of the intelligence branches, but you can be sure that, given pardons, they would land on their feet.  They would get jobs in the private sector - such as speeches, books, private security, or even enter politic.
  2. It would change the culture of the intelligence agencies, making them far less likely to repeat their stupid mistakes.  They would still torture, but do it much more warily, only with much better reasons.
  3. It would affect the political races in an unknown manner.  It might have helped the democrats, but might have helped the republicans.   That would be very complicated, and no one can predict the end results.  But if we did it NOW, chances are it would not affect major political movements.
  4. It would risk revealing certain intelligence practices.   The quicker they plead guilty and were pardoned, the less secrets would be revealed.  If they did it all in one day, no secrets need be revealed
  5. It would bolster our failing moral credit.   By admitting our mistakes and pardoning our criminals we send a message to the rest of the world - we don't like this activity, but are willing to do it.
  6. It would cost some money and political capital.

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