Torture Is In The Eye of The Beholder

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Torture is such an ugly word. We prefer to think of it as ‘confession enhancement’.

“Torture is in the eye of the beholder”, Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada would explain to Congress just before he ripped the eyes out of Senator John McCain and waved them around. “Anyone else see torture?” he would ask sarcastically to the silent room. While not that bad yet, McCain has been consistently outspoken regarding the policy of torture, having seen its inhumane ineffectiveness first-hand. The controversial technique called “waterboarding” was like a ball down throat of Judge Michael Mukasey during his confirmation hearings. Asked if waterboarding was illegal, he replied he needed to learn more about it to answer the question. Why someone didn’t immediately strap him to a board right there is puzzling. He could be asked afterwards, “So, what do you think now, Judge? And don’t let the fact that waterboarding has been persecuted as a war crime since the Spanish-American war cloud your judgment”.

This issue is perceived as a battle between the executive rights of the President versus the need to obey international law. Some find it repugnant that the President himself is advocating torture when he has never been at risk of such. McCain has the high ground here while the only real, practical experience President Bush can bring to the table is creating a new form of interrogation where cocaine is blown up the noses of suspects to “loosen them up” a bit.

Waterboarding is not the only interrogation technique under scrutiny as torture. Other “harsh techniques”, include head slapping and sleep deprivation. Seriously, if head slapping and sleep deprivation were “torture” then parents and college professors would be war criminals. One pro-torture argument is that the nebulous, nonspecific “they” do it, too. The problem with that argument is that only a fraction of all suspects rounded up are “the Droids you are looking for”. As for the rest, do “they torture, too” or are they simply just “tortured”? If a cable company were to put wires to the testicles of every male between the ages of 18 and 49 to determine who on the block was stealing cable, most of us would cancel our subscription. It would be futile. First, that makes you fit the profile even better and second, only after they’ve hooked you up to the power-lines of their love would they ever discover the truth. But, as long as General Manager Torquemada, destroys the tapes, no one will ever know…

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