Wednesday, January 03, 2007

America is better than this.

In the new news, which is the same as the old news, there are new allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanimo, this time from an FBI report which stated that 26 FBI agents working in Cuba witnessed the abuse.

On several occasions witnesses saw detainees in interrogation rooms chained hand and foot in fetal position to floor with no chair/food/water; most urinated or defecated on selves and were left there 18, 24 hours or more," according to one FBI account made public.

One FBI witness saw a detainee "shaking with cold," while another noted a detainee in a sweltering unventilated room was "almost unconscious on a floor with a pile of hair next to him (he had apparently been pulling it out through the night)."

Another witness saw a detainee "with a full beard whose head was wrapped in duct tape."

One FBI statement said that an interrogator squatted over the Quran and that a German shepherd dog was ordered to "growl, bark and show his teeth to the prisoner."

Another detainee was draped in an Israeli flag.


Now, there are those who would like to say that if Islamicists were holding Americans, the treatment would likely be far worse. Point conceded.

They would also suggest that these techniques 'work,' presumably to extract information. That has been refuted, in particular since it turns out that one of the al-Qaeda Iraq links that was advertised as justification for the invasion was both false and coerced. When people are being tortured, they will say what they think the interrogator wants to hear, which may not be the same thing as the truth.

There are those who will wave the rhetoric "Sure, it's bad. But would you rather see a mushroom cloud over an American city than...?" However, that argument is pretty worn out by now. Considering by now the large number of these cases we've seen all over the world, it seems more likely that mistreatment of prisoners is an outgrowth of policy (though not necessarily of explicit policy.) Even if there were an urgent case to abuse one prisoner for information on an imminent attack, the numbers of cases we've heard about by now make it clear that this isn't about one specific case, but the general way we do things.

But whatever excuse, there is one basic fact about this and similar scandals elsewhere:

We are America, and we don't do these sorts of things to already restrained prisoners.

1 comment:

Jack Hampton said...

Who would have thought ten years ago that we would even be arguing about 'how much torture is OK?'

We sure are becoming what we are fighting against.