March 13, 2005

Facing torture

Joe's Dartblog offers this commentary on today's AP story revealing that the U.S. military has been practicing torture in Bagram, Afghanistan -- where two prisoners were beaten to death by American soldiers -- since 2002:

It seems clear that the chained position was a means of extracting information, or at least of making the terrorists uncomfortable as some sort of punitive measure. However, as a result of blood clots and repeated battery, both of the terrorists died while chained. Though the intention was not to kill the men, this does indeed seem to be abuse, and it is a shame.

But as always, to put this in context means to realize that the enemy has done- and would do- far worse to Americans. To realize that war is hell; that none of us know that we wouldn't do the exact same thing in that situation.

I emailed Joe Malchow about his unabashed use of the word "terrorist" to describe the two prisoners who died. The AP article does not apply the term to the two men, nor does it describe their backgrounds beyond stating their ages and the fact that one of them was a taxi driver with a 2-year-old daughter.

Malchow has posted my comment on his blog and replies that "As for my use of the word 'terrorist', I feel comfortable in the assumption that anyone our men in Afghanistan arrest as part of the War on Terror is indeed a terrorist or somehow supports terrorism. It's just a certain level of trust that I am comfortable with." Malchow does not provide any further justification, such as any based on the histories of the torture victims, for using the label "terrorist."

Jane Mayer's landmark article "Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America’s 'extraordinary rendition' program" alone is enough to demonstrate that this kind of blind faith in "The War on Terror" is terribly wrong. The facts are overwhelming. No, it's not a pleasant thing to acknowledge about your country, but face it, and stop perpetuating the kind of doublethink that allows it to continue: the Unites States is guilty of torture -- not "abuse"; we are killing prisoners here without trial -- on a massive scale, and among those tortured have been, and almost certainly continue to be, innocent people.

No comments:

Post a Comment