Column – Interrogation or torture?How would you feel if, while being forcibly drowned, the people doing it kept telling you they are using only “enhanced interrogation techniques?” That phrase is the innocuous “substitute” for torture, as used by members of the Bush Administration.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
How would you feel if, while being forcibly drowned, the people doing it kept telling you they are using only “enhanced interrogation techniques?”
That phrase is the innocuous “substitute” for torture, as used by members of the Bush Administration.
For years, they kept telling us that prisoners were not being tortured. When documentation of incidents of “torture” was released, Bush functionaries claimed they never lied about it, including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
But, in a way, they weren’t lying. That is because they defined their “enhanced interrogation techniques” as “not” torture, such techniques as water-boarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and being crammed into box-like cells. If they had chosen electric-shock “techniques” or hoisting-by-rope “techniques,” they would have conveniently claimed those were not torture methods either.
This is similar to former President Bill Clinton’s response to allegations of having sex with Monica Lewinsky.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he famously said, wagging his finger.
Then, later, we discovered Clinton’s definition of “sexual relations” does not include anything but genital contact. So he could claim he wasn’t lying during that deposition.
This twisting of language, this deformation of words, is rampant in Washington, D.C. It’s easy to do. First, define your misdeeds in namby-pamby phrases. When questioned or caught, lie through your teeth. Then deny you lied because those misdeeds weren’t really not misdeeds, at least according to your definition.
We keep hearing these “enhanced interrogation techniques” yielded good results. Those who were tortured (whoops, interrogated in an enhanced fashion), spilled the beans about plans for more terrorist attacks. Maybe so. Does that mean the ends justify the means?
Even Senator John McCain, who suffered terribly under “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the North Vietnamese, deeply opposes torture of any kind. He has also emphasized time and again that torture is the most unreliable method of obtaining vital information.
This perversion of the English language by officials is a dangerous trend. Eventually, words are not what they are supposed to mean. We all know some of the most flagrant examples: “misspoke” for “lie;” “deniability” for “it wasn’t me;” or “pacification” for “burning down villages.”
These Bush Administration officials who convinced themselves they weren’t condoning torture even stooped to quoting doctors that such “interrogation techniques” cause no serious medical effects or lasting harm to the victims. What a joke. The rage and humiliation induced by torture is enough to create many future Osama bin Ladens.
Doctors hired by the Nazis said much the same thing during unspeakable experiments on Jews and others they thought undesirable. In the old American South, there were doctors who claimed some Negroes were afflicted with a mysterious disease that caused them to want to run away from plantations. So much for the veracity of some “doctors.”
Most of this crazy-quilt world looks to the United States of America to take the moral high ground – to reject the cruelties, the tortures, too often perpetrated elsewhere. Thanks to President Barack Obama, “torture” can be defined for what it is – torture – and this country can begin once again to shine as an example for others.