When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.
As MarkH of Denialism Blog points out in the comments section of one of his recent post, "Torture is illegal. It is a violation of treaty. Treaties, according the constitution, represent the highest law of the land." Our continued use of these techniques is not just immoral, it is criminal as well. A crime has been committed, lies have been told to the American people, and the United States continues to participate in acts we consider abominable.
I've had conversations with anti-immigration conservatives who argue that those born into a troubled country should not move to a new nation, but stay and fight to fix the problems of their native society. Well, our country, the United States, is deeply troubled.
What do we do?
UPDATE: The Washington Post has an incredible article today about a group of WWII vets who have condemned modern interrogation techniques. These same men were once responsible for interrogating Nazi prisoners. According to Henry Kolm, a 90-year-old MIT physicist who had the job of playing chess with Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess, "We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture." Arno Mayer, 81, also refused to accept honors from the Army's Freedom Team Salute, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. "I feel like the military is using us to say, 'We did spooky stuff then, so it's okay to do it now.'"
The octogenarians are standing up for humane treatment of war prisoners and detainees. We should too.