Thursday, May 14, 2009
Members of the Bush administration continue to argue that torture was effective and that plots were revealed that enabled the administration to foil attempts to attack the homeland of the United States. It is likely that some information was obtained by torture. What we don't know yet is how much dis- or mis-information was obtained. We also know that some very important information was obtained from a suspect before he was turned over to the CIA for "harsh" interrogation.
There can be no argument that the fact that the United States has subjected prisoners of war to torture has ruined our reputation for fairness and openness in our dealings with the rest of the world. One of the important duties of the Obama Administration is to rebuild the trust we once had that was squandered by our practice of torture.
So, why did we do it? The reasons for not using torture have been well-known for centuries.
There is one reason no one has yet mentioned. Torture is very useful as an easy way to elicit a confession from a suspect. Prosecutors have an easy job convicting a suspect who has actually confessed to the crime. Police are praised for quickly finding a suspect of a heinous crime and getting the suspect to confess. Crime > capture of suspect > torture the suspect > suspect confesses (no surprise!) > trial and easy conviction > suspect goes to prison or is executed > case closed, prosecutor and police off the hook. Our legal history has many cases in which the innocent were convicted and punished.