Posted by: coloradokiwi | April 22, 2009

Torture Talking Points: How to Talk to Pro-Torture Fraidy Cats

The Bush era sycophants and rightwing sadists have done a pretty good job of muddying the waters on torture and the he said/he said aspects of releasing classified memos.  Here’s a quick and dirty guide with the most appropriate responses for the next time you get in an argument with someone who thinks torture was justified or that we should continue to use torture as an interrogation technique going forward:

“They thought there was an imminent attack, and so they were trying to get time sensitive information.”

Um, you’ve been watching too much 24.  There is widespread consensus on this point among everyone in the intelligence community:  to the extent that torture ever works, it is only useful for getting very specific information from specific individuals (i.e. people who you know for sure know a “known unknown”).  And that isn’t what they were doing.  Instead, they were torturing people to go fishing for information as well as looking to prove things that simply weren’t true.  

“But there are some things we just don’t know.  We need to use torture in order to find this out.”

Under duress people will say anything to make the torment end.  Information needs to be true and actionable, not just information for information’s sake.

“But Cheney said there are memos that saved lives.”

Perhaps, but this doesn’t include all the wild goose chases we were sent on.

“But doesn’t saved lives justify the use of torture?”

Going on wild goose chases is a waste of resources and manpower.  How many more lives could be saved in the future, or could have been saved already, by instead utilizing the information, contacts, and resources for stuff that is real and actionable?  Would we have captured Bin Laden by now?  Conversely, how many lives are endangered because the people who could be acting on good intelligence are instead deployed elsewhere?

“But waterboarding isn’t really torture.”

Oh yeah?  How would you feel if you saw our troops being waterboarded?  Or your family members?  Who would Jesus waterboard?

“Okay, but it’s not as bad as beheading and all the bad stuff those jihadists do.”

You’re seriously using barbaric radicals as the standard to which we should set ourselves?  

“What I mean is that we’re not as bad as they are.”

Well, rape isn’t as bad as murder.  So okay, I concede the point.

“We don’t know what they knew at the time.  The Bush Administration were doing the best they could.”

Turns out the best they could was also illegal, according to our own policies as well as the international treaties to which we are supposed to adhere (not least the Geneva Conventions).  Maybe they were really were just trying their best, but we can’t just wave away laws out of fear or desperation.

“Why should we care what the terrorists think?”

Because they use our actions to swell their recruits.  They believe that our nation is on a theological, imperialistic crusade, and in the process that while we espouse all this rhetoric about “democracy” and “freedom” and “rule of law,” in fact we capture their people and hold them indefinitely while torturing them.  The have been using our own actions to push this idea among the wider public in the Muslim world.  Imagine they had the power to land an army in Kansas in order to fight some evangelicals who’d blown up something in Kandahar.  Now imagine if on the occasional carpet bombing they regularly killed some innocent people.  Now imagine that they nabbed a few of those evangelicals, took them back to Kabul, locked them up and tortured them for years.  You think there might be a few people around the country willing to go into Kansas and start shooting up some A-rab foreign invaders?

Also, aren’t we supposed to hold ourselves to a higher standard?

“But aren’t you worried there could be another attack at any minute?”

Jesus, you are such a chicken shit.  Because that’s what it comes down to:  you really are so frightened that you would do ANYTHING just to make yourself feel less afraid, even if that doesn’t necessarily produce results (because the results produced by torture are not consistently reliable).  If the Bushies told you that we could prevent terrorist attacks by smothering ourselves in garlic, you would do it, wouldn’t you?  I don’t want to die, either.  But I also don’t want to live as an immoral coward.

That or you just like to see those nasty Muslim dudes suffer.  Wait…you are aroused just thinking about it, aren’t you?


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