Saturday, 17 January 2009

Waterboarding is Torture

I make an effort not to spout my opinions on purely US issues, because no one should really care what I - as a non-US citizen who has only ever spent 5 days in the country and has no great depth of background knowledge on it - think about anything. I remember my (naive) shock a few years ago though, when I looked up from my books on the Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983), full of disgust at what happened in the detention centres, and discovered that the US, my nation's 'greatest ally' and the world's 'greatest democracy', was still doing exactly the same thing in the twenty-first century!
“Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.”

It was torture when they called it 'submarino' in Argentina, and it is torture now.

Waterboarding is Torture at GlobalComment)


Kadmiel said...

Ia gree that there are forms of tourture should not be proliferated in anyway during interrogations. but the sad reality is that it is used and the information gained is then used at times to save even more lives. so i beleive it is one of those odd evils that sometimes helps in securing information from people about others to save the lives of even more

Lillie Langtry said...

You've certainly named the central argument for torture, Kadmiel.

Oddly, when I started googling for specific examples of lives that had been saved by torture (ie, the successful outcome of the so-called ticking bomb theory), I drew a blank. Can anyone point to an actual instance of torture saving innocents? I'm talking concrete examples, not a "Well he probably only talked because of the torture and if he hadn't probably other people would've done bad stuff".

Assuming that you CAN save actual lives by torture - which I'm waiting to be convinced of - and assuming that you CAN get accurate information under duress (can you?) and assuming that it IS justified to hurt one to protect others, you need to consider whether it is justified to break international law and why, if one country sees fit to break the law, others should uphold it.

As a final point, there was no ticking bomb during the Argentine dictatorship. The guerrillas were an insignificant threat who were crushed during the first months of military rule. The great majority of torture victims were innocent civilians. I wonder how many of the US's detainees are in the same situation.