We tortured people to death

It’s time again to talk about torture

Too much of the debate on torture has focused on specific tactics in isolation. The logic goes like this:

Pouring water on someone’s face doesn’t sound so bad does it? Having to stand in the cold doesn’t sound too terrible. Being slapped a few times is mean but not torture. I mean come on, you’re worried about depriving terrorists of sleep? These guys are trying to kill you and yours!

We’ve been conditioned by years of televisionand movies to think of this stuff as the basis of interrogation. While I’m opposed to using any and all of those tactics, I could see a reasonable person agreeing they could be used by themselves under limited circumstances. But what’s not reasonable is approving of this:

Jamal Naseer, a soldier in the Afghan Army, died after he and seven other soldiers were mistakenly arrested. Those arrested with Naseer later said that during interrogations U.S. personnel punched and kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables. Some said they were doused with cold water and forced to lie in the snow. Nasser collapsed about two weeks after the arrest, complaining of stomach pain, probably an internal hemorrhage.

Or this:

In December 2003, a 44-year-old Iraqi man named Abu Malik Kenami died in a U.S. detention facility in Mosul, Iraq. As reported by Human Rights First, U.S. military personnel who examined Kenami when he first arrived at the facility determined that he had no preexisting medical conditions. Once in custody, as a disciplinary measure for talking, Kenami was forced to perform extreme amounts of exercise—a technique used across Afghanistan and Iraq. Then his hands were bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs, he was hooded, and forced to lie in an overcrowded cell. Kenami was found dead the morning after his arrest, still bound and hooded.

Or this:

The cases also include that of Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a former Iraqi general beaten over days by U.S. Army, CIA and other non-military forces, stuffed into a sleeping bag, wrapped with electrical cord, and suffocated to death. In the recently concluded trial of a low-level military officer charged in Mowhoush’s death, the officer received a written reprimand, a fine, and 60 days with his movements limited to his work, home, and church.

Going through those combined techniques repeatedly is not only painful, it’s deadly.

American officials, going all the way to the President of the United States, approved these tactics and are responsible for the broken lives and the dead bodies of these tortured men. At the very least, they should have to defend themselves in a long and embarrassing trial.


  1. Clint

    Yeah, I mean there are incredible amounts of evidence that they approved tortured and killed people as a result, but surely you don’t want to risk the upheaval that would result if we applied the law to everyone in our society — including the most powerful.

  2. Biff

    We must do what President Obama says and move beyond the past and work for a progressive future of peace and prosperity.