Testimony from the International Commitee of the Red Cross

It’s pretty brutal, and it made me feel pretty sad. Thereby, I think it’s required reading. Found this courtesy of Andrew Sullivan [1], [2], who notes:

Remember: these guards and torturers are Americans, under orders from an American president, against US law, in violation of UN treaties, in total contravention of the Geneva Conventions, and far from any hypothetical “ticking time bomb” scenario….

I know that the testimony of former inmates in various US prisons around the world shouldn’t be taken, necessarily, as the truth in every case; there are obvious reasons that former prisoners would want to tarnish the image of their captor’s nation. But when the evidence starts to pile up (add these testimonies and more the testimonies of prison guards, to the brutal Abu Ghraib images we’ve all seen, to the suspicious

Taken at Abu Ghraib Prison by US Military Personnel

Taken at Abu Ghraib Prison by US Military Personnel

deaths of many inmates after “interrogation” sessions, etc), it gets hard to ignore. It really does seem that agents of the United States actually tortured people they had taken into custody. 


For me (and hopefully for most of us), this is a really bitter pill to swallow. I’m not sure when I first understood “torture” as a concept, but for as long as I remember knowing that torture existed, I was incredibly proud that it didn’t happen in the United States. We had courts, we had the Constitution, we had jails and justice. I was proud because my country could be the best in the world without resorting to purposefully inflicting pain and suffering on defenseless prisoners or criminals. But now…well, we do do all that. 

The thing is: we don’t have to. Sullivan points out that none of this happening in or around the ridiculous and absurd “ticking time bomb scenario.” Nobody has ever proven the efficacy of torture, and it’s my impression that there’s a consensus among professional interrogators that torture is an inferior method of extracting information (based on the quality of the “information” extracted, not because of its extreme moral perversion). Torturing our enemies won’t make us safer than not torturing them, and there is a strong case to be made that the blow to America’s standing in the world that was dealt by Bush and Cheney’s torture regime has destabilized the entire world and made Americans less safe. 

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney says about Obama:

“He is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.”

I say: fuck you. You did more to raise the risk in your 8 years than Obama could if he tried. Yglesias is more eloquent:


If I were Dick Cheney, I’d be laying low thanking my lucky stars that I’m not on trial for war crimes not going on television to talk smack about the new administration… It’s really remarkable when you think about it that anyone would listen to Cheney on the subject of national security. His administration was by far the least successful in American history in terms of preventing international terrorists from murdering Americans. Also by far the least successful in American history in terms of preventing international terrorists from murdering NATO allies. 


Sorry to end a serious post on a non-serious note – it’s a little hard to write (or think) about this stuff.


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