(This was written several years ago for Facebook, but recent discussions on 2016 POTUS campaign and media wonks prompted me to publish this post, that has been in suspended “draft” state” I’ll likely update this to align with current national discourse)
In the midst of the media coverage about enhanced-interrogation techniques, I am unable to find common ground with those who want to debate whether certain techniques–specifically waterboarding– in question are torture.
I think that there is little room for argument. Waterboarding is torture and I will not even pretend to acknowledge any argument to the contrary.
That being said the open questions surrounding enhanced interrogation of detainees are these:
- Are these techniques effective? and
- Should we be using these techniques?
I have had no interrogation, or interrogation-resistance training, and have only a limited knowledge of behavioral sciences. Thus, I am not qualified to reach a conclusion on these questions. Neither is Ed Schultz. Nor is Sean Hannity. Nor is Michael Moore. Nor is Dick Cheney.
To help me answer the above questions, I turned to the US military’s supreme moral authority.
During World War II, comic companies regularly featured stories in which super heroes were pitted against Nazi or Japanese Imperial forces. Notable heroes of the era included Captain America, the Human Torch and Namor, the Sub-Mariner the king of Atlantis. This trio, plus the era’s obligatory teenage sidekicks fought the good (albeit fictional) fight against the Germans and Japanese during the “The Big One.”
In the 1970’s, Marvel published “The Invaders” a series that united, Captain America, the Human Torch and Namor. The stories were original, but were set in the WWII era. As a child, I remember one issue where the Invaders uncovered some diabolical plot and captured a Nazi operative.
Namor–who had the strength of 100 men–opened a can of whoop-ass on the operative in order to get him to reveal secrets. Namor’s fist was halted by Captain America who disapproved of the harsh tactics. The dialogue went something like this:
Captain America: Namor! Stop what you’re doing! Now!
Namor: But, he’s a lousy Nazi!!
Captain America: And we’re no better, if we resort to their brutal methods!!
Yeah, it’s like that. Torture in the 1940’s would make us like Hitler. Torture today makes us no different than Bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahri.
If you are not persuaded by the noble words of a comic book character, I invite you to hear those spoken by a real-life military hero..
Do you think that Senator McCain is qualified to speak to these questions?
The opinions of Hayes, Hannity, Cheney, Moore, etc, are valueless to me. On the issue of torture, I’ll defer to the opinions of Captains McCain and America.
Waterboarding is torture. Torture is un-American.