Friday, November 9, 2007

The Torture of Mukasey's Confirmation

Last night George B. Mukasey was unfortunately confirmed as AG to follow in the footsteps of Alberto I-Do-Not-Recall Gonzales, which I am sure he will do diligently. His confirmation sends very much the wrong message to the world about the position of this country on torture and it was a confirmation which was brought about by another spineless show by the democrats who allegedly believe that anyone in Leadership at the Department of Justice was better than no leader at all. I beg to differ, but that is for another time.

I’ve read a lot of material going back and forth about torture and whether waterboarding is torture and whether what the Americans did to Iraqis at Abu Ghraib constituted torture or not and whether it was OK to torture someone if you had an imminent threat. There is an easy way to determine this so I looked up and arranged to have dinner with Dr. Uwe Jacobs, Director of Survivors International, a non profit organization based in San Francsisco.

Survivors International or SI aid victims of torture in a number of ways and to do so, they established a protocol which is designed to determine whether a person has been tortured or not. Their guidelines and protocol for determining the occurrence of torture has been adopted by the United Nations and is effectively a manual for psychologists, doctors and nurses and others around the globe for ascertaining the incidence of torture. In short, Dr. Uwe Jacobs’ opinion on torture is quite categorical and his opinion is that there is not the least smidgen of doubt, that waterboarding leaves deep long lasting psychological scars and quite unquestionably constitutes torture.

The United States Department of Torture, which must exist by now and if it doesn’t, it should, may beg to differ, but they are by far in the minority. Being American doesn’t make one automatically right and the Global View is that waterboarding is torture. To quote Dr. Jacobs:

“It’s insane that there’s a debate about it.”

Then we of course get to the discussion about imminent danger. That is that some say that torture is justified if one believes a person to have information which could save hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. This is a bogus argument which has been confirmed as being erroneous time and time again. Information obtained under duress is not reliable, that’s the bottom line. But even if it were, what then?

Simply put, torture of any kind crosses an ethical boundary which, when crossed, puts one on the same footing as the evil which one is purportedly attempting to prevent. It even sets the precedent which gives others carte blanche to do the same and worse. A society that tortures, for whatever reason, can no longer claim to be civilized. It’s a simple as that and a society that tortures, can also no longer claim the moral high ground nor the distinction of being a victim. A society that tortures becomes oppressor and tyrant.

That is why George B. Mukasey should never have been confirmed as Attorney General of the United States. Someone who cannot distinguish this simple fact should not even be running Saddam Hussein’s Justice Department.

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