Monday, May 18, 2009

American Torture


American Torture



When Barack Obama took office as the 44th President of the United States of America he inherited a large number of very serious crises that included two wars, the meltdown of the American economy and U.S. foreign policy that was in shambles. Among these many issues that our new president had to deal with was the political fallout from the authorized use of torture by the CIA and other government contractors under the Bush administration. Like many things controversial, the use of torture has become a club with which both sides of the political isle are beating each other in the futile effort to gain a little more power for their team. The American public, as usual, are the real losers in this game. The true significance of what we, as a country, lost during the darkest days of the Bush administration has been obscured by the ever increasing polarization of our political system. The real problem with this situation was not the waterboarding of a few terrorists but rather that President Bush had officially sanctioned the use of torture. The fact that the administration invoked sacred cows like "national security” and "War time powers” did nothing to change the reality that the United States had crossed a very dangerous line when our government decided to make official policy of torturing unarmed and defenseless prisoners.


I am no card carrying pacifist. In the days immediately after the attacks of 911 I would have personally liked to do things to those who were responsible that would make waterborading look like a trip to Disney World. Americans were outraged at those despicable attacks and most of us wanted to retaliate in the strongest manner possible against those who took part in turning commercial airliners full of passengers into flying bombs. Only President Bush and his cabinet know for sure exactly how decisions were made in the months after the attacks yet the whole world has had to deal with the consequences of those decisions. This point in time is where the road branches into many paths and few agree on much beyond this fork in the road. The facts are abundantly clear, however, that in declaring “WAR” on terror the administration began to expand the powers of the Executive Branch to dangerous new levels and in doing so stretched the Constitution to the breaking point. One of the most disturbing and controversial manifestations of the administration’s expansion and abuse of power was the rounding up of guilty and innocent people alike, torturing and detaining them indefinitely and using the “War on Terror” as the excuse for these and many other actions that were beginning to shred the fabric of American values.

Wanting to validate my suspicions on this matter I spoke with several sources that were high-level players in the intelligence and military communities at different points in time. These men confirmed many of my suspicions. According to sources the U.S. has indeed tortured in the past and has been doing so for as long as we have fought wars. I was not surprised as I had always suspected that the use of torture was nothing new. War is ugly, even Cold War, and sometimes in the prosecution of our wars we do things to our enemies that could certainly be considered torture. Somewhere in the middle of the “War on Terror” I remember hearing about “Extraordinary Rendition.” It turns out that this friendly sounding term refers to cases where U.S. intelligence agents or contractors spirited suspected terrorists off in the middle of the night to other countries around the world where “real” torture could be carried out. The methods of torture used in some of these cases will likely never be read aloud at any congressional hearing. The Bush administration authorized extraordinary rendition many times but they were not the first administration to do so. There have certainly been times when it has been necessary to break the rules and carry out things like “Extraordinary Rendition.” The problem lies in making things like torture the rule rather than the exception. Torture and all the excruciatingly painful things that come to mind when one utters the word have been tools in the intelligence community’s toolbox for generations before George Bush came to power. According to my sources these tools were used sparingly, for tactical purposes, in what they referred to as “Dark OPS.” In other words; Torture carried out without official Presidential sanctioning during covert operations. These same sources all seem to be in agreement, to a certain degree, that torture is not the most effective way to obtain information. If the torture is severe enough, I am told that a well trained intelligence officer can get anyone to say just about anything. If one needs tactical information of a specific nature and they need it in a hurry, torture may be useful, and in many cases it may not be. The development of certain types of relationships, brainwashing, between the intelligence officer and the captive is said to be a better way of getting more reliable and abundant information. So, why the big deal now?

The Bush administration crossed the line when it made torture a government sanctioned business. In consulting attorneys to look for legal loopholes then passing directives down the chain of command, thus giving the green light to torture, Bush and Cheney climbed into the gutter with all the petty dictators of the world and dragged American honor, for which many brave Americans had fought, sacrificed and died to uphold, with them. Some of the most indelible and abhorrent symbols of the environment the Bush administration created by officially sanctioning torture are the pictures of the grotesque and humiliating abuses inflicted upon the prisoners at Abu Grieb. Abu Grieb is the very prison in which Saddam Hussein and his sons tortured the citizens of Iraq. When the gallows door dropped, sending Saddam Hussein to Hell, the reputation of the United States of America as a good and decent nation swung on that rope with him. Restoring the good will and honor the Bush administration tarnished by officially sanctioning torture, among other things, is going to take a long time and a lot of work. The United States of America and her good people started the process of doing so at the ballot box.

Copyright © 2009, Gordan Thibedeau, Jr.

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GLT JR is a 42 year old father of 7 and currently is raising an awesome 5 year old daughter as a single parent.

Mankind May Survive If We All check The Box Marked HUMAN RACE.

In order for all humans on Earth to survive we must stop concentrating on the things that make us different and realize that we all bleed red. Erase the imaginary lines that divide us, stop devoting our resources to building walls and war machines and we might just make it. People often ask how God could allow all the suffering in the world when the real question is why do we.