Way back, in what seems like a long time ago, I remember my grade school teachers telling my class with pride that we as a nation “didn’t do” torture. This was during the Vietnam War, this is what the commies did, not us.
We were above this. We were a civilized nation, besides any information gathered under torture is dubious at best. This is what happened in far flung places like Turkey (Billy Hayes), the USSR, or Uganda. Or closer to home like Chile, Haiti, Guatemala and Argentina. We were the beacon of hope, the island of light in all this darkness. This was NOT what “WE” did.
I was told this by conservative, Bible believing, Republican, red white and blue, support the President and the war in Vietnam, teachers.
Of course there was torture in America, places such as Arkansas State Prisons. But that, we were told, was aberrant and something to be removed from the American landscape. Dr. King was in, the KKK was bad, freedom was strong and the commies would not be allowed to take another country.
Then we had 9-11 and our moral compass changed. Some of us reasoned that torture would be okay, they forgot or chose to ignore that when you do this, you loose something vital from yourself, or from your nation as a whole. This is especially true of a nation of high ideals, that the forefathers articulated in several documents.
We used the excuse, or "reason" that if you caught a person who had kidnapped many people and they would all die if you didn’t find out where they were, torture should be an option. What if they were children?! Wouldn’t you use torture to compel the answer? But we had faced exactly that scenario in Chowchilla, CA. The people, children no less, were rescued before they died. Interestingly enough a year before I had checked out a book from my school library which had this very same plot. The crime followed the book in almost every detail. (I guess we should have had the Patriot Act back then so the government would have known about everyone who had read it. Someone may have gotten the idea from this book).
But now we are through the looking glass when it comes to torture. We do it (Abu Graib) or we “out source” it to other countries (rendition). And we even have intelligence officers calling into talk shows bragging about what they do and what they’ve done And talk show hosts applauding and supporting it. (don’t listen to this if you’ve just eaten or get sick easily).
While we have no way of knowing if this person actually did these things or is even with the government, what was once hard to believe about us, is now not so hard to believe. What if the people in question are innocent or really know nothing? Impossible you say? And no innocent person has been sent to prison here for a crime they didn’t commit. We have already "renderd" some proven to be innocent to be tortured.
We then we wonder why the rest of the world feels they way they do about us and does not trust us. "What?" we say, "even with this we are no where near as bad as those we replaced." But when you go in under the banner of "moral imperative" or reframe the reasons that you invaded a country under that banner, then you have an obligation to be hold yourself, your government, your officers and your troops strictly to that standard.
We have not and what we’ve lost to our collective American soul, and in our standing in the world as a whole is immeasurable. We fell down the slippery slope, and it may well be impossible for us to climb back up.
Bush Administration Trying to Act Like USSR