The Incredible Question

The dust has not settled yet.  Osama bin Laden’s body is hardly cold.  Never the less, some cannot wait to assert that enhanced interrogation methods played a key factor in his detection and ultimate death.  What are these people thinking?  What do these people see when they look in a mirror?

Enhanced interrogation methods covers a wide range of dehumanizing techniques chosen to extract intelligence information from unwilling detainees.  In comparison to the horror of 9/11, one could feel that extreme measures seem justified.  These “terrorists” have little regard for life, why should we?

Techniques designed to inflict pain or break the detainee’s psyche carry indelible marks of who we are as a nation.  Every country has citizens who would willingly inflict pain, suffering, and even death on a captive.  All this in the name of some national purpose.  What separates some countries from others is national values and norms.  These values and norms are incorporated into law and sometimes treaties.

One enhanced technique, water boarding, has a long history of use.  It also has a long history of condemnation.  It is against US law and the Geneva Convention (of which we are a signatory).  While water boarding has many critics who doubt its efficacy, its use also denies the US moral high ground.

Enhanced interrogation should not be a Republican or Democratic issue.  I would have thought it would be against religious beliefs.  Unfortunately, the biblical “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” message, provides a viewpoint for some where you can drive a truck through.

Instead the use of water boarding is about ones moral and ethical make up as well as a common sense issue.    In a world of 7 billion people where the US has 300 million, we had better be advocating a globe that follows the rule of law and respects the dignity of others.  You need only look at the 20th century to see the destruction and death that has resulted from nations who disregarded human rights and the rule of law.

Those who are voicing today the virtues of enhanced interrogation are not deep thinkers.  They are those who purposely put their hands in the cookie jar, ordered or performed water boarding, and now are trying to justify their behavior.  They broke the law, no matter their intent, and should be held accountable.

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One Comment on “The Incredible Question”


  1. As an update to this post, the May 4th edition of the WSJ carries a John Yoo opinion column. Yoo made the big time as the author of the torture memos. In these documents, he advised the Bush Administration that essentially enhanced interrogation methods were legal. He also advised that the Geneva Convention could be ignored.

    Yoo is a disgrace to the legal profession. He is a charter member of the “ends justify the means” club which was so popular with Cheney and his cabal.

    So, surprise, surprise, Yoo writes today that getting bin Laden is too the credit of “W” and especially to the use of enhanced interrogation. He goes further and says if it had been up to President Obama, key information would have never been obtained.

    I think the gloves should come off. The Justice Department should indict Yoo and test our country’s will to live by laws.


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