Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Institute on Religion and Democracy condones torture by the United States

In a rather astonishing bit of intellectual dishonesty, Mark Tooley, the director of UM Action at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, has criticized the call by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture to end torture, reports WDC Media.

The NRCAT ran an ad on the New York Times op-ed page (pdf), and released a statement that calls for an independent investigation of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, overseas CIA prisons, extraordinary rendition, Abu Graib, and Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.

Did I mention that megachurch pastor Dr. Rick Warren signed the statement?

So, why would Tooley criticize an independent investigation of potential human rights abuses, including torture? Because, he says, the NRCAT's statement fails to condemn torture in other countries, like North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia. He claims that the NRCAT is singling out the United States and the Bush Administration. Says Tooley:
If [the NRCAT] were genuinely interested in torture, of course they would be addressing those regimes that actively and deliberately do practice torture rather than focusing exclusively on the United States.
I don't get it. The US Government is the only government that US citizens can directly influence. If the NRCAT doesn't make an explicit call for an end to torture elsewhere, does that mean that the US should continue with its current policies?

What Tooley doesn't seem to realize (either that or he's deliberately dissembling) is that fudging on the issue of torture, however we want to define it, serves only to set a terrible example for North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia, an example that makes it difficult if not impossible for the US Government to call for an end to torture in those countries. With every word out of Tooley's mouth, we understand more fully the political shackles that constrain his conscience. Too bad he doesn't have the commitment to human rights and democracy that the name of his organization would suggest.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I was a U.S. Army Interrogator for 24 years, so I think I'm somewhat qualified to address the issue of torture.

Let me say that there is torture, and there is abuse. Torture is an interrogation technique, although not an effective one. You can get almost anyone to talk thru torture, but you can't necessarily get them to tell the truth thru torture. No doubt things have occurred that almost anyone would agree qualify as torture, but much of what human rights groups would classify as torture I would classify as abuse or even good, valid interrogation techniques.

Is making a detainee stand for long periods of time torture? What about questioning him in an area with no chairs, making it necessary for us both to stand for long periods of time? Threatening a detainee is torture under the Geneva Convention. What about asking if he wants you to come in there and beat him? Obviously, using a pair of pliers on a detainee would be torture, but is just having a pair of pliers with you in an interrogation setting torture? It is if he perceives it as a threat. So when we talk about torture, let’s understand that there is torture and there is torture.

A human pyramid of naked detainees. Stupid, and worse ineffective, but torture? Depends on your viewpoint. Was anyone injured or physically harmed? Psychologically harmed? Maybe, but that's why they say war is hell. Should it be allowed? No, but that’s why we prosecute people who abuse detainees.

The interrogation concept behind the naked pictures is that if I have a photo of you in a compromising position, you might be a bit more cooperative to prevent that picture from getting to your fellow detainees, family, leaders, etc. Forcing you into a human pyramid is not going to be compromising, obviously no one is going to believe it was anything other than forced. And letting the pictures out on the internet kind of defeats the purpose. So, this wasn't torture, it was abuse. And agin it's being punished.

You have to remember, we’re not dealing with nice people here, sitting down with them for tea and crumpets is not going to get you anywhere. They don’t play nice and we don’t play nice. I’ve been detained and questioned by another government’s agents, and they didn’t play nice. And it was just business, the business of gathering intelligence, and I don’t hold any hard feelings for them.

I do have hard feelings for Muslim extremists who abuse/torture prisoners just for fun and then behead them. I haven’t seen Americans doing that. I have hard feelings for Muslim Somalis who abuse the dead bodies of soldiers. I haven’t seen Americans doing that, either. I also have hard feelings for racist, ignorant guards who abuse my detainees. It makes it just that much more difficult for me to get the information we need from them to save lives. And I have no problem seeing these “abusers” punished.

But let’s remember that there are differences between abuse and torture.

I’ve been investigated for violating a detainees human (Geneva Convention) rights and for allegations of torture. The investigators concluded that I walked a very fine line but that I did not violate the GC. But the human rights cops would have had me locked up and thrown away the key. During the first Gulf War the worst threat we could make to an Iraqi EPW (POW) was to turn him over to his Muslim brothers from Egypt. Now those guys know how to torture. But you don’t hear much about Muslims torturing Muslims, no, all you hear about is Americans torturing people.

Should we be against torture? Obviously, yes. But if you think these detainees should just be released without questioning, contact the Bush administration, give them your address, and we’ll see about having the detainees released and moved in next door.

That said, I don’t see how anyone can not be against torture. How can a supposedly Christian group like the IRD (We all know they’re not really a Christian group) come out against a statement calling for the U.S. to end the practice of torture? How can you not be against torture? Mark Tooley is an idiot and a puppet of the conservative extremists.