Does the Bush Administration torture? The short answer is, well, duh. The evidence is overwhelming. It’s not even truly denied by the administration, their denials take the form of “We have created legal opinions about what torture is. We do not engage in practices that we have defined as torture. Therefore, we do not torture.” Note that this is entirely dependent upon what the Bushies themselves say torture is. It doesn’t matter if international law, human rights organizations, or common sense say it’s torture; as long as Gonzales and crew have said it ain’t, it ain’t.
An stronger justification is the form of “Torture is illegal. Everything we do is legal, since we decide what is legal. Therefore we do not torture.” Bush used this one recently. Note that this is literally no way to torture then. Anything you do is legal, by definition. Since torture is illegal, nothing you do is torture.
Is torture justified? No, not at all. It’s appalling that this discussion is even taking place. Did you ever think the day would come where you could have a straight-faced discussion about whether the US should torture as a regular practice?
Andrew Sullivan, once a pro-war hawk, shows how far we’ve come. Waterboarding (one of the many non-torture tortures employed by the Bushies) is a torture popularized by Torquemada during the Spanish Inquisition. Click to the link, and compare the description of Torquemada’s techniques and the CIAs. Identical.
Andrew has a lengthier article on torture. It is worth taking the time to read in full, it does a much better job than I could ever do on laying out the case against torture. Continuing with the example of waterboarding, we read:
“According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the waterboarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said Al Qaeda’s toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two and a half minutes before begging to confess.”
If the toughest guy in the world can only take two minutes, and most garden variety toughies can only take 15 seconds — that is unquestionably without doubt torture. QED, end of story.
In addition to being fundamentally immoral, one of the most immoral actions concievable, torture is also fundamentally useless, if not counter-productive. (More on that soon)