Leaning to the Left

Writing from a liberal persuasion

Torture, So What

Posted by Beau Winiger on April 23, 2009

The newest conservative defense of the torture/enhanced interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration can be summarized as follows, “Even if we did torture, is it really such a big deal since we got results”.  This viewpoint has been espoused by the likes of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) in the past few days.  Boehner even went so far as to call the tactics torture, but quickly swept aside the severity of law-breaking actions since they got results and were used in protecting America.

For the sake of argument let’s agree that concrete information was gained by the use of torture (even though it is generally agreed that torture is best used for obtaining false information).  While this author in no way wants America to be subjected to future terrorist attacks, this does not automatically mean that all methods are open to use.  America needs not only physical protection, but the basic ideals that America represents also need to be protected, and one of those ideals is that America is a fair and just country that does not use torture.  It is against both American and international law, regardless of the usefulness of information obtained.  Once you start to sweep aside American values you have started to destroy the America that so many of us know and love.

Although not usually a source of sound political judgement, every once in a while Fox News will surprise you.  Yesterday Shepherd Smith repeatedly refused to buy into the new conservative talking point of torture not really being that bad when it provides useful information.    As you can see by the clip Mr. Smith is offended by the idea that torture is acceptable in certain circumstances, as we as Americans should be.

This author does not doubt that many of the severest techniques were reserved for suspects that truly did want to harm America, and they most likely did have information that would prove useful in the defense of this country.  But one of the hallmarks of American justice is that it should be universally applied.  This means that we are forced to treat others as we would wish to be treated around the world.  The same people that are dismissing torture by Americans would be outraged if the exact same techniques were used against Americans by a hostile nation.  What this says is that torture is bad, always, regardless of who it is used against. 

This does not mean that wantingto use torture to gain information is unreasonable, but it does not dismiss the crime.  For example, let’s imagine a case where a man’s child was brutally murdered.  The man knows who murdered his child, but he does not want to wait for the justice system to use the approved legal methods to apprehend the man, fearing he might kill again.  He tracks down the murderer and kills him himself.  While our emotions might lead us to believe the father did the right thing, this does not dismiss the fact that the father is now guilty of murder.  Just because you can sympathize does not  dismiss the action.

 The values that we hold to be dear should not be convenient values, ones that we dismiss when they become difficult to uphold.  The true measure of the sincerity of our beliefs can be seen only when we are forced to apply them to people who do not deserve them.  Such is the case with the torture of terrorist suspects.  If you are a terrorist plotting against America most people (including this author) would say that perhaps you have torture coming to you, you deserve what you get.  But we live in a country where we believe that torture is fundamentally wrong, and by excusing torture the same conservatives who claim to represent American values are actively destroying the America that we as citizens believe in.  Torture is wrong, always, no matter what, and it is a sad day when such a statement even needs to be argued.

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4 Responses to “Torture, So What”

  1. Denny said

    Is spanking a child torture to you? What exactly do you think happens in war? Do you even believe we should have a military? Why not look into al-qaeda and see what REAL torture is all about? Most liberals who hate America don’t seem to have an ounce of a problem with Castro or other left-wing dictators who REGULARLY torture and imprison those they don’t like.

    If these teqniques save lives – AND THEY DO – then there IS a reason why we should keep them. But if someone is uncomfortable, then liberals scream “torture,” even though some of these same teqniques can be equivalent to what people go through in their regular jobs.

    All I see from radical progressives is hatred for America and concern for the enemies of America who would kill us all. I just wish they would be willing to live in Cuba instead of here, where they earn $11.00 a month in that “paradise” Fidel made for them.


  2. Beau Winiger said

    I will try and briefly answer some of your claims/questions very quickly: 1. Waterboarding isn’t the same as spanking. 2. Yes I believe we should have a military 3. Please don’t accuse me of hating America. If you believe that a moral objection to torture equates to hating America we live in different countries. 3. I don’t remember ever mentioning Castro. I am against all dictators and human rights abusers, both foreign and domestic, left-wing or right-wing. 4. Torture and being uncomfortable are not the same thing, not even close. And I don’t know where you work, but unless it is Wally’s World of Torture I don’t think most regular people are tortured everyday at work. 5. I don’t doubt that terrorists would resort to torture, but I also don’t believe that we should use them for our moral compass. 6. America has a history of not being a big fan of torture. America executed Japanese soldiers who used torture (including waterboarding) against American soldiers in World War II. That would seem to say America is pretty anti-torture, and believes waterboarding is torture (or maybe America just hates America, and maybe America should just leave America).

  3. suckonthis said

    Why do people keep claiming that these techniques save lives? Where’s the evidence of that? The only so-called evidence I’ve heard of was a Fox commentator’s ridiculous claim that waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed prevented the Library Tower bombing. And even if that’s true, why are they the suggesting that waterboarding isn’t torture? Are they honestly suggesting that terror suspects are giving up valuable information because we “spank” them? Who do they think these guys are?

    My thoughts:

  4. suckonthis said

    Sorry, forgot the link:


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