THE MORAL HAZARDS OF TORTURE

by: Blaine Skrainka

July 2, 2011

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, proponents of enhanced interrogation and torture have again raised their voices claiming vindication for their hawkish policies. It is far from clear that these techniques actually led directly to the whereabouts of bin Laden, and this victory should not be used as a case study to champion these human rights violations.

Art by Lydia Emily

The basic case against torture is fairly clear. It is inconsistently effective and can lead to inaccurate information. The value of the credible intelligence that is obtained by means of enhanced interrogation techniques is not worth the devaluation of our nation’s credibility and the atrocities that are inflicted on potentially innocent people. One of hundreds of examples is Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen returning home from a trip to Tunisia, was picked up at JFK airport, shipped to Syria and tortured by means including being beaten with a shredded electric cable. He was held for a year without charge, and eventually released without indictment or apology.

What is less reported on is the political cronyism of the military industrial complex, especially when it comes to the black sites across the globe, the outsourcing of interrogation to private firms, and the tools of torture themselves. In 2008, a former C.I.A. official, Kyle D. Foggo, was convicted of awarding contracts for the construction of secret detention centers to a lifelong friend. He was also accused of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. Foggo was the number 3 ranking official in the C.I.A. at the time.

While these financial and moral conflicts of interest are not quite as stomach churning as the torture itself, they are critical to understanding the system of abuse of authority and disintegration of human empathy. Take action against torture here.

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