Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The End does not always justify the Means

I'm shocked that so many people who were or are involved in governing the United States of America believe that torture is justified as long as it yields beneficial results. Is rape justified if the rapist has an orgasm? I say it is not and I feel the same way about torture.

Dick Cheney is calling for the government to release documents that will prove that beneficial information was gained through the use of torture. It doesn't make any difference; torture is wrong. Rape is wrong. Cheney was and is wrong.

I think that Obama made a mistake when he ordered that no CIA personnel could be punished for using torture. I think his recommendation to look forward and not into the past is foolish. All crimes are acts of the past; should we not punish all criminals? Following orders is not an excuse. 9-11 is not an excuse. Protecting America is no excuse for torture. We punished, in fact we executed, many government officials and military personnel that claimed that they were only following orders when they used torture during WWII. Was that time less dangerous than during the Bush presidency after 9-11? No. Are our torturers less guilty? No.

In my opinion Obama is obligated to enforce the laws of this country and our treaties. The Dept of Justice should investigate and prosecute these "admitted" crimes without exception. High rank and high office does not put one above the law and exempt from punishment. Nixon was wrong when he said "it's not a crime when you are the president." It is, in my opinion, a bigger crime deserving of harsher punishment when it is committed by the president.

If these criminals, especially those responsible for justifying and ordering the use of torture, go unpunished it will open the door for future leaders to do the same when they feel events justify it. Who have we become if we do less?


Averagejoe said...

What's your definition of torture? Don't answer that, it means nothing because it's your definition and your opinion. It's not the law.

For a crime to have been committed a definition would've needed to be codified and any person that should be punished would need to break that definition.

Joe said...

Here's a definition by an American soldier who experienced waterboarding at the hands of his captors.

Chase J. Nielsen, one of the U.S. airmen who flew in the Doolittle raid following the attack on Pearl Harbor, was subjected to waterboarding by his Japanese captors. At their trial for war crimes following the war, he testified "Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let up until I'd get my breath, then they'd start over again… I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death."

Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, stated in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that he believes waterboarding violates Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

Bent Sorensen, Senior Medical Consultant to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and former member of the United Nations Committee Against Torture has said:

It's a clear-cut case: Waterboarding can without any reservation be labeled as torture. It fulfils all of the four central criteria that according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture defines an act of torture. First, when water is forced into your lungs in this fashion, in addition to the pain you are likely to experience an immediate and extreme fear of death. You may even suffer a heart attack from the stress or damage to the lungs and brain from inhalation of water and oxygen deprivation. In other words there is no doubt that waterboarding causes severe physical and/or mental suffering.

Averagejoe said...

Again I say to you, what law has been broken? The U.N. does not have jurisdiction.

Joe said...

Both our military law and international treaties of which the United States is a signer make torture illegal. If you don’t have a problem with torture then you will always find some excuse to justify the act. Nothing I can say will change your mind. It’s a question of morals; you either have them or you don’t. Torturers don’t.

averagejoe said...

again, name the law that was broken. if you can't then you can't prosecute. simply as that. oh, and just because you think it's torture doesn't make it torture. I would be inclined to say that it is but that is just my opinion not the law.

Joe said...

I think we will see the courts decide on this question. I think the DOJ attorneys that approved of waterboarding will have to defend their actions in court. I also believe that the courts will find them at fault, disbar them and possibly imprison them. Furthermore, I think those trials will reveal that members of the Bush administration were criminally involved and they too will find themselves being tried and punished by our courts.

If and when the courts rule we can discuss this further.