Sunday, March 15, 2009

Morality isn't for the weak

This article in the NYT Review of Books is something for all of us to be ashamed of. The US public should demand an investigation and prosecutions of those responsible.

Don't shrug your shoulders, read it

An excerpt:

Two and a half months after Abu Zubaydah woke up strapped to a bed in the white room, the interrogation resumed "with more intensity than before":

Two black wooden boxes were brought into the room outside my cell. One was tall, slightly higher than me and narrow. Measuring perhaps in area [3 1/2 by 2 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet high]. The other was shorter, perhaps only [3 1/2 feet] in height. I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck, they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room. I was also repeatedly slapped in the face....

I was then put into the tall black box for what I think was about one and a half to two hours. The box was totally black on the inside as well as the outside.... They put a cloth or cover over the outside of the box to cut out the light and restrict my air supply. It was difficult to breathe. When I was let out of the box I saw that one of the walls of the room had been covered with plywood sheeting. From now on it was against this wall that I was then smashed with the towel around my neck. I think that the plywood was put there to provide some absorption of the impact of my body. The interrogators realized that smashing me against the hard wall would probably quickly result in physical injury.

This is real, not some fantasy entertainmment from the Fox Network.


Anonymous said...

Here's a very simple fact:

More people have died riding in a car with Ted Kennedy than have died at Guantanamo. These prisoners there are fed three squares a day, given prayer rugs, recreation time, and all the rest of it. I hardly feel sorry for them.

Tom Steiger said...


Thank you for commenting.

You misunderstand the significance of the facts. There is no reason to feel sympathy for Abu Zabaydah or any of the 14 "high value" detainees. It is for the US we should feel sympathy. Officially and by law, the US does not torture. We are signatory to several international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions. We prosecuted Japanese for waterboarding after WWII for war crimes. Our elected leaders, repeatedly, lied to us about this. Since even before the US was an independent nation, no less than George Washington banned torture of the enemy British.

Yes, there are instances of where it has occurred, in Vietnam and South Korea, but not as official policy.

The US joins a group of nations who routinely torture and tortured: the former Soviet Union (we used many Soviet techniques in the torture of the 14 the ICRC interviewed), Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia. Are those nations you would look to as company we want to keep? These are our soul mates?

"Bring to justice" has always meant in the US to bring to a trial of peers and appropriate punishment. With these acts, the US will never be able to bring these terrorists to trial and thus to justice. We didn't summarily execute Saddam Hussein when we caught him. He was tried, convicted, and executed. The masterminds of 9/11 will never face that fate because the torture will get them out of any court proceeding because the torture is illegal.

IF you truly believe that we cannot maintain our morality, our American institutions, and still fight terrorism, then 20 zealots with box cutters managed to do what Britain, Germany (twice) and the Soviet Union couldn't do: defeat America. Those institutions and the "nation of laws" is foundational to our way of life. To so easily cast it aside, (as you would do?) is to admit we have been defeated by 20 guys with box cutters.

tom steiger

Barbara said...

I agree with Tom. This is not about the terrorists. It is what the so-called war on terror has done to our country and our values. This article provides evidence that if we are in a War on Terror, as W said, then he is a war criminal and should be tried by an international tribunal for the war crime of allowing torture. International law, law we agreed to legally, was broken. The terrorists have succeeded in their main task, which was to destroy us. And they have. We are no longer the same country we were before 9/11. W and his team have helped the terrorists succeed. Together they took what was essentially the best part of America and killed it. I am grieving for that loss. Hopefully all the moral men of the FBI and CIA who refused to participate and were fired can resurrect their careers and be welcome in the Obama administration, and we can try and rebuild what we have lost. But I think America has forever lost the moral high ground now.

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