Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Torture Debate

The national discussion regarding the use of torture and extreme rendition is often cut short by declarations that this is a time of war. Such declarations are not usually followed by any explination as to what significance that should have because most of the time they are made by people that have no interist in actually considering the value or appropriateness of torture. Though now it appears there are legal consequences of the torture that these people had previously been unwilling to think about. Unfortunately these are not the legal consequences of those being responsible facing justice. They are the natural consequences of the unreliable information that is gained from torture. Followed by the that information gained through torture being unusable in court because of the tainted nature in which it was obtained.

Even if you do accept that torture does work and that it is called for by the current situation, the torture debate is more than just an argument over whether extreme measures are acceptable during a time of war. There are at least two other issues.

First, intelligence failures prior to 9/11 indicate that the US intelligence community doea not need more information since they had enough to know the attack was coming, and they are too incompetant to use the information they do have.

Second, there are serious questions about whether the person being detained under suspicion of being a terrorist is actually guilty of anything. People have been spirited away, aparently based on nothing more than a muslim sounding name, tortured, and released after months when it is discovered a mistake was made and that these people were not criminals or if they were, after the CIA had fouled up the investigation.

Many people are not conserned with this because they don't have muslim sounding names and are merely mundane white people living in the heartland. This should consern everyone because it is the start of a slippery slope. If the people responsible for this get away with abducting and torturing innocent people for something as vaguely defined as being a suspected terrorist it is a small step to other criminal suspects and then another small step to the imprisoning and torturing of people for legal but unpopular behavior. And then you have the thought police.

These steps are smaller than most people want to believe because the first step has been so large. That people that are merely suspected of being terrorists are being tortured is highly significant. It causes the ensnarement of innocent people based on unchallenged circumstantial evidence.

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