Thursday, December 11, 2014

We Are Better Than That

Whether you want to call it "enhanced interrogation" or "torture", after reading about the techniques described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report I hope that we can all agree that we--as a country--are better than that.  "Rectal rehydration and feeding"--really?  And to make it sound even worse, it was done as much to "show control over the detainees" as it was to actually make sure they stayed alive during a hunger strike.

I understand the use of intimidation and fear in the interrogation process.  I understand the urgency to prevent another 9/11 or another African Embassy Bombing or another USS Cole.  I understand the desire to inflict a little revenge on the people who masterminded all of those terrorist attacks.  I can even understand the argument that you need to "get down to their level" to deal with these barbarians.

But the problem with that is by "getting down to their level", you become no better than the barbarians.  No, we aren't beheading our prisoners.  No, we don't stone women to death, or make them cover themselves from head to toe so that no skin is showing, or force them to marry at the age of 9 or ban them from getting an education or a drivers license.  No, we don't strap bombs to old people to wear into crowded farmers markets.  And we don't hijack planes and fly them into buildings.  But the use of some of the techniques listed in the Committee report make us look just as inhuman.

Personally, I don't care what the people of the Middle East or Europe think of us--or how this report is going to "hurt our global image".  We have saved pretty much everybody's butt from even worse abuses and tyranny at least once and probably twice in the just the past 100-years--so they still owe us big time.  But what I do care about is the standards by which I hold my own Government.  And the actions described this week are not the standards I expect.

So maybe it's a good thing that we expose this ugly side of our nation--and get to work on finding better ways to do things.  Ways more in line with standards we set for ourselves.  And if torture is the only option, might I suggest exposing our detainees to Taylor Swift, One Direction, Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea music and media coverage 24-hours a day.  That would likely make even the most hard-core Islamic militant crack.

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