Tuesday, December 20, 2005

U.S. Tortured Prisoners

I have very definite ideas about the use of torture against terrorists: I’m not opposed to it in principle, because people who customarily kill innocents deserve to experience as much pain and suffering as can be brought to bear.

However, having said that, we should not routinely use torture for two very good reasons, one legal and one practical.

The legal reason is that our laws prohibit torturing prisoners of war, and even though terrorists are not prisoners of war—according to the Geneva Conventions—we ought to avoid torture, even for the scum terrorists that we capture.

The practical reason is that torture mostly doesn’t work.

However, there are times when torture ought to be allowed, and to abolish its use totally is senseless and self-defeating. In the now-familiar “ticking bomb” scenario, when someone who has or may have explicit knowledge of an eminent terrorist action has been captured, I think that torturing that individual to gain information needed to intercede to save lives should be not just allowed, but encouraged, even to the extent of torturing that person to death. Taking the life of one scumbag terrorist to save hundreds or thousands of innocent people is a bargain I’d make at the drop of a hat.

I also don’t mind if our government does have secret prisons in friendly nations across the globe where captured terrorist suspects are taken.

However, while I condone the secret prisons, and while I condone the use of torture in the extreme circumstance of a “ticking bomb,” I do not condone the routine use of torture in secret prisons, and am appalled at evidence that the U.S. has done so.

As reported by, “a human rights group is alleging the United States operated a secret prison near Afghanistan's capital as recently as last year.

“The group claims that music by Eminem and Dr. Dre were used as instruments of torture.”

Have these people no shame, no sense of fair play, no decency, and no humanity?

The report quoted an Ethiopian-born detainee as saying he was kept in a pitch-black prison and forced to listen to Eminem and Dr. Dre’s rap music for 20 days before the ghastly music was replaced by more pleasing " horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds."

I say, “Hang the offenders.”

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