(Release of Bush-era torture memos April 2009)
Lost in the legal wrangling to preemptively absolve themselves of the crime of torture is the fact that it is the legal wrangling itself that makes this torture.
Always the first step in torture is rationalizing away any moral reservations and legalizing away any rights of the victim.
No one in history has ever committed torture by doing things that they knew perfectly well to be morally reprehensible unto innocent victims that they knew in their hearts did not deserve such treatment.
The notorious Spanish Inquisition was performed entirely by ordained interrogators who knew better than anyone living what the wages of sin were, and how many layers of hell awaited those who committed them. There is not a snowball's chance in purgatory that those priests would have harmed a single hair on a heretic's head if they did not first believe that the Vatican would vouch for them in heaven.
No concentration camp dentist ever ripped the fillings out of a Jew's head without first convincing himself that his patients were not worthy of humane treatment, and that the information gained from such torments would be of high-value to science.
Acts of torture do not begin when the first victim is strapped into that special machine you designed to cause them pain. It begins with the design of the machine.
It begins with a bunch of creeps sitting around brainstorming up the nastiest things they can think of doing to another human being that they won't feel guilty about afterward.
If you have to go to all the trouble of designing a special wall, and a special outfit for people to wear when you're slamming them into it. It should be pretty obvious that you really just get off on slamming heads into walls.
The pundits who want to pretend that enhanced interrogation is really about developing effective means of gathering intelligence, should be strapped down and waterboarded until they can tell us whether it was a caterpillar, a spider, or a bee that has proven most effectual in clinical studies.
Apologists have held up the insect interrogation as proof of the harmlessness of these techniques. But if you have to sidestep the wealth of available information on genuinely effective means of interrogation used by military and law enforcement, and start dreaming up deliciously unproven torments like the bug-in-a-box, then it's pretty clear you're not shooting for effectiveness. You're going for meanness. You're looking for "What is the most vicious thing I can do that I won't be arrested for later because it's not technically a crime?" And asking yourself that question is what makes it torture.
"Torture In Their Hearts"
by Jeff Goode, copyright © 2009