A Word About Torture

The United States tortures people. Time to just accept it. The endless wrangling over what the word “torture” means for the last seven years has become a largely pointless semantic debate. The administration legally redefined what “torture” means (has to cause lasting damage, like organ failure or death) so the principals can keep a straight face when telling the media that we don’t torture anyone, but it’s time to face facts. Call it “enhanced interrogation techniques” or whatever you want, the intent is clear.

Here’s how I know: There is a program that soldiers and Marines go through called SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) training where they are waterboarded, put in stress positions, berated, put in sensory deprivation, etc., in order to build their resistance to enemy interrogation. And after 9/11, when looking around for what new harsh interrogation techniques they could use against enemy combatants (having thrown the classic interrogation approach out the window), the administration decided to “reverse-engineer” the SERE techniques.

The crazy part? SERE was developed after the Korean War, because of the captured pilots who were used in Communist propaganda films, confessing to crimes and so forth. They were mentally broken but not physically abused in any way, and it looked bad, and the idea was of SERE was to specifically counteract these Manchurian Candidate-type techniques. So the fact is, America is basically using Communist Chinese torture methods on their prisoners to break them mentally and physically.

A perfect example of how insane this has really gotten is Jose Padilla. Padilla, an American citizen arrested on American soil, was declared an “enemy combatant” and locked in a naval brig for more than three years. According to a court brief filed on behalf of Padilla in 2006, he was kept totally isolated in a windowless cell in an otherwise empty brig, spent most of his incarceration sleeping on a steel bunk with no mattress, was placed in “stress positions” for hours at a time, was hooded and shackled, the temperature of his cell was kept below freezing for hours, threatened with execution, and given “truth serum” drugs among other things.

Who can claim that is not torture? Have we really become so existentially terrified of the Evil Terrorist Threat that we are literally willing to use techniques that the Soviets and ChiComs pioneered? What does this say about “American values” in the new millenium?


by Tommy Brown

“The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli

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