Oh I know the spiel from the right-- What would you do if your grandchild was held prisoner and you could torture someone to find out where? How do you know we do use torture? Has it really been any tougher than a fraternity initiation? Those hypothetical questions, the ones that avoid real issues and pop up so people don't have to face real questions.
Here's a real question: Is torture okay with you? Or maybe-- how many of those who were tortured were guilty of anything? Or does torturing matter as long as you are kept safe? Will it only matter if someday there is a knock is at your own door?
President Bush has evidently won the right to keep torturing whoever he chooses. So much for McCain making a big deal out of his limiting the president. Limited him how? They left it whatever Bush decided was okay was okay. How is that different than what was? Was their whole protestation a farce to get publicity before rolling over?
With the justification of protecting us, the Geneva Conventions have been turned into whatever this president decides is okay. We already know what he has thought was okay-- beatings, sexual humiliation, water-boarding, hypothermia, stretched positions (used to call that the rack), threatened rape if not actual rape. Some died under these tortures. Under that criteria, seems odd they would try Saddam Hussein.
Personally I suspect Bush needed something said that would condone what he has already done. Maybe his concern was avoiding future trials of his own people. I wonder how he would like having his men or perhaps himself put on trial but no evidence given because if you gave evidence, it might alert the enemy to your true plans.
How does someone like Bilal Hussein, a cameraman photographing the Iraq war, defend himself when he's arrested but with no list of charges, no names of accusers, but just thrown into prison, possibly tortured to get him to admit to something-- anything.
Whether we like thinking about any of this or not, we have personal responsibility for our own acquiescence in whatever they do. So was it okay with to torture men like Abdul Ameer Hussein or Maher Arar who later the government released and admitted were innocent? Oops. Accidents happen when you are trying to keep the American people safe.
What if such torture ends up saving nobody's life anywhere? Still okay? How do we find out if the torturing was useful? Are we content to take the word of the Bush administration because we think that absolves us of personal responsibility?
Ignorance is no excuse in the law, and I don't think it is in moral issues either-- not when it's purposeful ignorance.
I believe the Geneva Conventions were agreed upon in the same way many years before a convention of people got together to write down specifically what Jesus taught and who he was. Not new information but simply deciding it was time to write it down.
The people writing the Conventions weren't gathering new information either. They were consolidating human opinion on how to treat others in a war situation-- something this administration has declared us to be fighting. The idea was the so-called civilized world (not one man alone) would decide what was appropriate to do to prisoners.
After the horror of the Holocaust, I think the world wanted to never again let one nation ride roughshod over others without accountability from the whole community. What they wrote down then was an agreement on what was civilized.
Germans, as a people, had a stain on their reputation that lasted many years after what happened under the Nazi party. Was it enough that they as individuals didn't know, or were they guilty of looking the other way and not wanting to see?
Some people in my country don't seem to care what someone else does if they are told it will keep their families safe. Others disagree with torture, but will they see that disagreeing means they have to vote out their own congressmen who voted to allow torture-- whatever party he was in.
And about torture itself, it's not just that it doesn't work. It's not just that people who are tortured will confess to anything. It's not just that it's inhumane to sexually and physically abuse another person for your own ends-- whatever they are. It's about who we are, not just who they are.
"This is a spooky time in history. It’s one thing for tyrannical regimes like the old Soviet Union and Communist China to bulldoze the very idea of human rights and human decency by engaging in such atrocities as detention without trial, torture and other forms of state terror. It’s something else completely when the United States, the greatest symbol of liberty that the world has ever known, begins to head down that hellish road. " by Bob Herbert-- September 25, 2006 New York Times
So just exactly who are we? Do we torture or do we say no to it at the polls in November?
The people who have been tortured all around the world by many nations are generally anonymous-- some guilty of something, some innocent. To reflect their faceless fate, there could be no photograph for this topic.