Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Torture: The nightmare scenario

Amidst the discussion of Geneva Conventions, waterboarding, Gitmo, and whether 'Merica really should be the "good guy" on the world stage, I have questions for the faux patriots and torture defenders:

Suppose an innocent person ends up in Gitmo?

Suppose this very person is subjected to--what's the right-wing PC term?--"advanced interrogation techniques"?

See, there's such a thing as mistaken identity. A perfectly innocent man may have the same name as, say, an al Qaeda operative. Or he may bear a close resemblance to said operative.

Obviously, these "advanced interrogation techniques" are woefully ineffective in this case. For one thing, the prisoner, being innocent, would have no information to provide in the war on terror. At what point do the interrogators realize that these techniques aren't working? Or that maybe they've got the wrong guy?

Imagine an innocent man being taken from his home country and spirited away to Gitmo. He's not allowed basic legal rights because, since he is a potential terrorist, he is not, after all, innocent until proven guilty the way most prisoners are. Imagine this innocent man subjected to "advanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding.

Imagine if the story found its way into the national media. We're talking about Abu Ghraib times 100 here. We're talking about Osama and other demented fundie smirking gleefully as revulsion spreads throughout the Muslim world. We're talking about potential world pariah status here.

In this nightmare scenario, America's troops--the ones good, patriotic Americans support--are the first to suffer. What's to stop a foreign enemy from spitting on the Geneva Conventions, Bushco-style?

American foreign policy has a way of backfiring miserably. The US spent decades propping up scumbags like Batista the Shah of Iran. The result? Said scumbags were tossed out and replaced by unfriendly regimes. The US supported Saddam Hussein in the war against the unfriendly Iranians. You know what happened next. You also know what happened in Afghanistan.

The war on terror has similar potential. Only this time, instead of supporting torturers in Latin America and the Middle East, we'd be doing the torturing ourselves. Forget about the "slippery slope" of "advanced interrogation techniques." It's not a slope--it's a 500-foot plunge off a cliff.

Now do you see why your fellow Americans are so antsy about torture and the Geneva Conventions and all those other things that Fox News tells you not to worry about? It goes beyond good guys and bad guys. It really is in America's best interests not to torture.

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