America’s moral responsibility in condemning torture

    The use of torture is as old as war, and it continues to foment heated debates, collective soul searching, investigation and condemnation.
    On his weekly Center Square audio essay WHYY’s Chris Satullo looks at America’s moral responsibilities when it comes to condemning prisoner abuse.

    Listen: [audio: satullo20090830.mp3]

    Had lunch the other day with a friend, a good, thoughtful, moral person.

    “Why,” she asked me, “does your radio station keep running so many reports about torture? I just don’t want to hear it anymore.”

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    In that, my friend is like the bulk of Americans, including, it seems at times, Barack Obama.

    Sorry, y’all, I’m going to talk about torture again.

    I hope loads of journalists keep reporting details of the immoral things that were done by our government out of panic, arrogance and fear.

    Whatever it takes to get more Americans to grasp how big a stain on America’s honor and values has been left by these barbarous, cowardly acts.

    A nation founded on the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights simply should not do these things. We should be better than that.

    Recently released reports prove that the program to torture unarmed prisoners was closely directed by Bush administration officials in Washington. Rules, oh they had lots of rules, for how torture should be done. Such as: How cold the water could be during the mini-drownings known as waterboarding.

    Americans have been told and have swallowed fairy tales to excuse this barbarism. Torture was not just a matter of a few bad apples on a night shift at Abu Ghraib. No, it was a systemic campaign directed from very top.

    And the most disturbing excuse of all: Torture worked, generating tips about plots, so it’s OK. The moral emptiness of that stance is breathtaking

    But even that premise, the claim that torture worked, retailed again this week by the insufferable Dick Cheney, is just untrue. A horde of experienced interrogators have repeatedly rebutted the claims that torture was either necessary or more effective than legal techniques.

    Why listen now to any canard pushed by the Cheney gang? These are the guys who claimed to have incontrovertible proof that Iraq had WMD. In fact, this crew could not tell the difference between solid evidence and a can of beefaroni.

    The truth of torture must be uncovered and told, even if to unwilling ears, even if it makes Barack Obama uneasy, or Dick Cheney livid.

    It’s the least that America owes the memory of people with names like Madison, Lincoln, Stanton and King.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal