US Torture Practices

“Of all the terrifically bad ideas implemented by the Bush administration since 9/11, probably the worst have involved torture.” (

According to the website article, Jose Padilla spent 1307 days in a 9 x 7 foot cell. He was subjected to complete sensory deprivation: He was kept in a dark room or blindfolded the whole time. He was forced to wear earplugs and was deprived of sleep for days at a time. He was held in stress positions and injected with truth serum. And, yet, according to the government, Padilla remains completely unharmed and is likely faking his craziness.

This is an interesting article and it makes you think a bit. My gut reaction is the same as everyone elses in America. If he had anything at all to do with the 9/11 attacks, then who the hell cares how he’s treated. But, just on a simple level, this makes us no better than he and his comrades. Additionally, as the article and many other experts on torture point out, it simply doesn’t work.

I admit, I’m not an expert in interrogation techniques, but here’s one more source of information that I came across recently. Democracy Now! ran and article called “Is Torture on Hit Fox TV Show “24” Encouraging US Soldiers to Abuse Detainees?” In it, Amy Goodman interviewed a man named Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator. (Read an interview where he recounts some of his experiences with torture in Iraq.) When asked bluntly, “Does torture work?” he’s quoted as saying “In my experience, no. I saw torture in Iraq. I even employed some torture methods. In my experience, it doesn’t work. I think that you’re going to get false intelligence when you employ torture methods.”

Here’s what I think is funny. The government first denies mistreatment of prisoners. Then they rewrite the rules so that whatever they’re doing can’t be considered torture. Put simply, the Geneva Conventions guarantees certain rights to Prisoners of war. However, it makes no such provisions for “Enemy Combatants.” Now, it’s a simple matter to simply change the designation of prisoners from POW to Enemy Combatant, thereby removing any liability under the Geneva Conventions. See this article in the Baltimore Chronicle for more.

Here’s one more thought…What if we’re wrong and Padilla is innocent? What about all the other prisoners in Gitmo. Do we really believe that every single one of them is guilty? If even one of them is innocent, what gives us the right to treat them like dogs. In fact, whatever happened to the presumption of innocence in the first place? Oh…Wait…That went out with forfeiture of habeas corpus (What is Habeas Corpus?). What was I thinking.


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