During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made it clear that although war is inherently brutal, torture and cruelty had no place in a morally superior society. Indeed, the world has time and again reiterated the dictum that torture of any type is forbidden and prosecutable under the Geneva Convention that America subscribes to. After the terror attacks on 9/11, in an effort to get actionable intelligence the Bush Administration engaged in and defended the use of torture as necessary to protect the security of the United States. That policy and verified use of torture has proven to be a stain on America’s character.
The images of prisoners being humiliated at Abu Ghraib prison at the hands of U.S. military personnel sent shock waves throughout the world and destroyed any moral superiority America laid claim to instantly. The Bush Administration’s approval of torture at the time further eroded America’s image around the world and started a debate at home on whether torturing prisoners was legal or produced positive results. The simple fact that Americans were having a discussion on the legality of torture speaks volumes as to the depth of depravity our country has sunk to. Obviously, many morally bankrupt Americans missed the point that cruelty and torture have no place in the theatre of war, a detention facility, or the local police station.
The torture debate is back in Americans’ conscience because Republicans cannot stand the fact that Osama Bin Laden was killed and someone other than George W. Bush is president. Within minutes of President Obama’s announcement that Bin Laden was dead, Republicans scrambled to give credit to George W. Bush despite the fact that on March 13, 2002 Bush said, “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” Six months earlier and two days after the terror attacks of 9/11, Bush stated emphatically that, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” It is obvious that Bush lost interest in finding Bin Laden within 6 months of the attacks, and yet nine years later when President Obama gave the order to raid Bin Laden’s compound, Republicans inserted Bush into the equation.
When it became painfully clear that most Americans credited President Obama with the fortitude and perseverance to order Bin Laden’s capture or death, Republicans shifted gears and began crediting the Bush Administration’s use of torture as the reason the intelligence community was able to find Bin Laden in Pakistan. The discussion has quickly devolved into Republican’s advocacy of torture and condemnation of the Obama Administration for prohibiting the use of, as the Bush Administration called it, enhanced interrogation techniques. One of the main advocates of torturing prisoners illegally is former Vice President and despicable human being, Dick Cheney, who is criticizing President Obama for not adhering to Bush’s use of torture.
Cheney made his remarks on “Fox News Sunday,” and although he praised President Obama for ordering the attack that killed Bin Laden, when the show’s host, Chris Wallace, asked Cheney if President Obama should reinstate enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, Cheney answered that, “Well, I certainly would advocate it; I’d be a strong supporter of it.” Cheney continued explaining that the Bush Administration went to great lengths to find a way to legalize torture and that, “it was a good, legal program and that, it was not torture. I would strongly recommend we continue it.” Regardless of Cheney’s assertion that waterboarding is not torture, worldwide, waterboarding is considered torture and even John McCain concurs.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, McCain said, “There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that (waterboarding) as torture otherwise we wouldn’t have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans.” During the 2008 Republican presidential campaign debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would not publicly say what, if any, interrogation techniques he would rule out if elected president. McCain responded to Romney’s comments saying, “I would also hope that he would not want to be associated with a technique which was invented in the Spanish Inquisition, was used by Pol Pot in one of the great eras of genocide in history and is being used on Burmese monks as we speak, America is a better nation than that.” John McCain was a prisoner during the Viet Nam war for 5 years and speaks with authority on the meaning of torture.
There is little doubt that waterboarding is torture. It is banned by international treaties and domestic law regardless what Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, or their lackey lawyers contend; the legality of waterboarding or any torture is a non-issue. What is an issue and disturbing as well is that there are Americans lining up on the wrong side of the torture debate to protect Bush and give him credit for Bin Laden’s death. Furthermore, advocating torture shows a lack of moral character that was at one time unheard of in America. However, that was before America slipped into the grasp of mean-spirited hateful conservatives who feel that American exceptionalism gives them the right to ignore conventions the rest of the world adheres to and follows as civilized societies.
The advocates of torture expose themselves as the worst America has to offer, and it speaks volumes about the sensibilities of the conservatives and Republicans. Their hatred and jealousy of President Obama reveals their abject lack of morals and ethics on the battlefield, prisons, and the halls of power. There was a time when all Americans would be sickened at the thought of torture out of sheer moral superiority and nothing else. Studies and experience have shown that torture does not produce actionable intelligence, and in most cases produces false information and breeds jihad in survivors. It also contributes to the moral decay of the practitioners as well as society in general.
The current advocates of torture represent the moral depravity rampant in the Republican Party who will go to any length to defame and delegitimize an African American president regardless that he, not Bush, presided over the killing of a mass murderer. The fact that there is even a discussion about the use of torture defines the moral decay of the proponents and is the shame of American society.
John McCain said that America is better than that kind of country who argues for, promotes, and practices torture, and on some level he is correct. America is better because we have a president who has banned the use of torture. However, the segment of the population as well as Republican presidential candidates Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum that support torture are a cancer on society and not representative of the high standards and morals held by most Americans. Then again, most decent Americans would never accuse Republicans of having high moral standards or any morals for that matter; or a conscience.