Torture Is Not Apple Pie

Torture Is Not As American As Apple Pie
Torture Is Not As American As Apple Pie
911 Did Change The Way Americans Viewed The World But Did It Change America's Ideals And Values
911 Did Change The Way Americans Viewed The World But Did It Change America's Ideals And Values

The Threat To America

When I was in Law School I was asked by a group of conservative students whether Islamic Fundamentalism was the greatest threat to Western Civilization. My answer shocked them. In my opinion the greatest threat to Western Civilization was not Islamic Fundamentalism but rather Western Civilization's reaction to Islamic Fundamentalism.

There has been much debate in the last few months on the issue of torture. President Obama released memorandums prepared for the Bush Administration that argued that water boarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" should be used and could be argued that they were not torture. The memos were released by the Obama Administration in an attempt to clear the air about this issue and improve America's reputation around the world. Instead, the release of the torture memo has opened up a Pandora's box of allegations and accusations and now pits President Obama versus former Vice President Dick Cheney. Obama argues that torture is never appropriate under any circumstances. Cheney argues that the use of water boarding and other torture techniques saved America lives and the failure to use these techniques is dangerous and puts America in danger. Simply, former Vice President Cheney is wrong and the current President is correct.

Dick Cheney May Have The Best Intentions But He Is Simply Wrong
Dick Cheney May Have The Best Intentions But He Is Simply Wrong

The Former Vice President Is Wrong

I am not one of those liberals who believes that Dick Cheney is an evil man. I believe he loves his Country and as Vice President tried to run the Country as best as he could while trying to deflect interference with governing from George Bush. Mr. Cheney has stated that watching his Country attacked on television while sitting in an undisclosed underground bunker changes a man's views about his responsibilities. Mr. Cheney now argues that enhanced interrogation techniques are necessary to keep us safe and are only used on a limited basis on terrorists dead set on killing all of us.

Mr. Cheney's view is a view of the world that is a direct result of 911 and the horrible attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania and the innoncence of a Country. The Bush Administration said over and over again after 911 that the world had changed because of it.

Where this post 911 analysis of the world gets lost is while the world may have changed after 911, the ideals and values of the American Experiment should not. As Ronald Reagan said, America is a "Beacon on a Hill" that stands for justice and equality around the world. The use of torture ordered by the highest authority in order to defend "American values" is wholly repugnant to what America is supposed to be. While basic human instinct and the necessary and normal need for revenge for those lost on 911 encourages the torture and humiliation of those accussed of attacking us, our belief in the laws and ideals of this young democracy must triumph. Mr. Cheney's stance, while normal on a basic human level, is simply contrary to the very ideals and values he claims to be defending. This is why he is wrong.

President Obama Is Trying To Return America To A Pre 911 Mentality On The Torture Issue
President Obama Is Trying To Return America To A Pre 911 Mentality On The Torture Issue
This Is Not An Example Of American Values
This Is Not An Example Of American Values

President Obama Is Right

During his campaign for the White House, Barack Obama offered Americans change. He promised a return of hope and optimism to our national lives. However, Barack Obama was not really offering change, but rather was offering a return to the America we all knew before 911. An America that offered hope to the world. An America rooted in optimism despite the odds. An America that spoke of freedom and justice and openly advocated for such. The America that stood in front of the Berlin wall and said tear this down. The America that brokered peace between centuries old rivals. Barack Obama promised a change to what we once were.

To renounce torture, as President Obama has done in recent weeks, is not an act of weakness. It is not an act of cowardice. It does not make America less safe nor does it give hope to our enemies. Instead, by publicly renouncing torture, it shows that no matter what is done, American ideals and values will live on. It tells the Terrorists that even if you kill our citizens, we will not stop enjoying the very freedoms you hate. It says that terrorism will never defeat Liberty.

So yes, we will capture terrorists and send them to jail. We will use all interrogation techniques available under the law. But we will follow the law. We will abide by our ideals and values. We will honor those who died for liberty and freedom by continuning to preach and practice every day. And in the end we will defeat the terrorists. We will defeat them by killing some, by sending others to jail. But mostly, we will defeat them by flaunting our freedoms and liberties across the world. We will defeat them by continuing to be that Beacon on the Hill. We will defeat them by not lowering ourselves to the community of nations that use thugery and brutality to create the image of security. We will defeat them by never letting them defeat the rule of law.

In The End, The Idea Of America Will Defeat The Reality Of Terrorism
In The End, The Idea Of America Will Defeat The Reality Of Terrorism

Torture Is UnAmerican

Even though it may appeal to the basic human instinct of revenge, torture cannot become as American as Apple Pie. Too many have died throughout the history of America for freedom and liberty to allow America to fall into the depths of fear and brutality. Former Vice President Cheney may very well have the well being of the Country at heart when he advocates the use of torture to keep the Country the safe, but he does not have the well being on the nation's soul at heart. If we abandon every safeguard to liberty and freedom in order to "keep America safe," what are we really defending?

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Comments 15 comments

eovery profile image

eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Of course torture is bad.

Are there any other solutions? Find something that is as effective as water boarding, that is not torture.

Some people have to make the hard choice and we do not have all the facts. Obama is only releasing those needed to spin it his way. there must be facts on terrorists plots that were stopped and that saved lives. If it wasn't so, Cheney would not have ask Obama to release the rest of the information. We are judging on biased facts, which is Obama's manner of only telling only half of the story.

On the other hand, is it okay for a leader of the country to allow thousands and up to millions of his citizens to be killed or hurt by terrorist when it may be stopped by water boarding on a few guys who are guilty of murder? That is a tough choice. It is alright to be a Monday morning QB. Convicts give up a lot of their rights the moment they break the law.

Should Clinton be held for assisting a criminal when he had the chance to grab Bin Laden, but did not? This might have saved thousands of lives.

If your child was kidnapped, and the police had arrested one of the people who did it, and he and his friends have known history of kidnapping and murdering. Would you for your children agree to water boarding to try to find you child. I am sure almost everyone would say yes. This isn't pretty but it is real. Like the Saw movies. What would the Idealist do when faced with the reality.

Yeah, people may have their ideal dreams on how they think things should be but in reality it can't happen. 9/11 was real. People died. There were plans for more to die. It had to be stopped. I am not judging, especially with biased information.

Yes, we need to stop torture, but if our leaders who have all the information need it, let's don't judge. I do not know what I would do. Would I tell everyone, we will trade thousand of innocent lives and not water board a murderer? Hard choice. Would I want to tell little Tommy and Jane that their Mommy will not be coming home today because her building was blown up, when I know I may have saved her life by water boarding a criminal, who we have the right to shoot. Waterboarding is worse than the death penalty? Death penalty is real dying, water boarding is thinking you will drown. Tough, questions, and I am not in the position to judge. I think we have Supreme Justices that are the "experts" for this.

Keep on Hubbing.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Fair comments.

We had information about 911 without water boarding, we just didn't use it because it was not comprehendable. So the argument that it saves lives does not work for me.

There are many ways to defeat terrorism. I think we go down a slippery slope when we justify what tactics to use based on the person we are using them against rather than what is right and what is wrong. To say this person is worthy of torture and this one is not is a dangerous precedent. And the kidnapping scenario you posed, while I would want to torture the kidnappers myself, my opinion in that situation should not dictate nor justify what is done. That is my point, we either stand for certain ideals or we don't. We can't make our values work when it is convenient. Values are only questioned when it is hard and if we act contrary to them, are they really our values anymore. And if not, then what are we defending. We are either different than the terrorists or we are not, that is the choice we have to make.

As always, your input is appreciated.


Iconoclast profile image

Iconoclast 7 years ago from Chicago, IL

I've addressed this issue and the chickenhawks who have responded to the post in my hub, President Obama Must Prosecute. Some people are just going to go through all manner of intellectual gymnastics for which they are unqualified to not get it. Torture is against the law, it is a crime. Waterboarding is torture. Torture does not produce information, it produces false confession. Torture also gives us another product: more terrorists.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

I agree, Obama needs to go all the way. Either do nothing at all, or prosecute to the fullest. No middle ground.

Thanks for the comment.


eovery profile image

eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

So a question with the higher brain powers, non-chicken hawks. If it is prosecutable, why is Obama not prosecuting. He is talking big talk, but I have not seen anything come from the Attorney General,yet. All talk and no do. He has had 100 plus days to do it, why hasn't he? If it is prosecutable, where are the indictments.

Obama is starting to screw up bad, and this is another blunder. This is backfiring on him and it is giving Cheney creditability. Even Obamas fellow congressmen are disagreeing with him when they vote to stop the money to shut down Guantamino bay. Keep it up Obama and you will make Cheney so creditable that he will become the new leader of the Republican party.

Oh by the way Obama, who is lying, you or Cheney.. Release the documents and if Cheney is right, Obama is a liar. Do not release the documents, and Cheney wins because it appears Obama is lying. Obama, if you do not release the documents, it is assumable you are covering it up, and you are lying. So what will it be?

Keep on Hubbing.


Iconoclast profile image

Iconoclast 7 years ago from Chicago, IL

It is safe, I think to say, that Obama, unlike Cheney, does not have a vested financial interest at stake. Cheney has a financial relationship in all of this that goes back to the early '80's, if not before. I hope that Obama's interest has not been clouded. Nothing of our Middle East relationship(s) is as simple as Cheney, and the GOP, has tried to depict.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

With that point I agree. The world is not black and white as the Bush Administration tried to make it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Let me see if I understand this by going back to your first idea.  If an American is captured they cut his head off by sawing back and forth for what seems like an eternity with a butcher knife while they film it for broadcast around the world on the internet.  If we capture one of their guys (or 3 in this case) and dunk their heads in the water—we are the bad guys in your storyline.

I do not know if you have any children, but I want to ask you something.  If your child was going to be killed six hours from now, and you held captive one of the conspirators and you had at least a passing fancy for your child and you thought that if you dunk this guy's head in the water he will tell you how to stop the plot, would you do it?  Or would you let them die? 


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

As to your first point, yes, if we start chopping off heads, then how are we any different then them? How are we better? We will eventually kill these people, but through legal means. We teach the world what power is about, that we don't have to take a butcher knife to everyone. That we are so powerful that a scene like that won't make us change our values and ideals.

As to my children, of course I would want to kill them, and I am offended that you would even challenge me on that. But my personal situation should not dictate a polciy for millions of Americans. We cannot run a foreign policy based on the fear and perceptions of the worst case scenario. Your little hypothetical cannot be the basis of a foreign policy. If it is, then you like to start wars. Then you tortue people and deny them human basic rights.

What George Bush lacked was the intelligence to know that as President, you govern in the abstract. You can't base decisions on individual scenarios. Then all you do is spread fear. Yes, I would want to torture them and kill them myself. But is that the basis of a foreign policy or should we think beyond our own personal fears?


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

I'll hand you this: you made an excellent response.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Thank you. As always, debate is good. I think it is good that this debate is happening. And to get to eovery's point, which I first responded to in a snippy way (then deleted it because I believe in respecting the other side) let's let out all the information. good and bad. Let Americans know all the facts. If indictments are called for, so be it. If we need to honor George Bush and Dick Cheney for keeping us safe, so be it. Truth is truth, so lets have it.


Opinion Duck 7 years ago

bg

I am not impressed by your law school reference.

Your logic is circular and self supporting.

You focus on non lethal torture purported to be common place in the American Military.

Your focus should be on the death, torture, beheading, bombings and the rest of the terrorist menu. These Islamic Extremists only differentiate between themselves and others. Any in the other category is a target, be it non military, men, women and children. They focus on the soft targets and try to incite fear among their prey.

The two party system is the problem and neither democrat or republican can act as a team, we call Congress. Without a united Congress, it is divide and conquer. Congress and the President should focus on getting their act together to protect the country from any and all threats including these terrorists.

These terrorists do see weakness in the current Congress and President. While you and others go after Bush and Cheney, the terrorists will be going after you and our country.

The two party system has been incompetent and ineffective for at least the last seventy years. The current condition of this country is the result of those last seventy years.

Before you start your lib bleeding, enumerate the accomplishments of Congress and Presidents of the last seventy years.

Passing bills and making promises are not accomplishments.

Why not put some effort into putting global pressure on the terrorists for their deadly and inhumane acts against helpless and innocent, men, women and children.

Take the side of their victims for a change.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Wow, well much to digest there. Again, we tell the world we are different because we believe in freedom and liberty. If we actively engage in torture, then are we any different. And we are making determinations of whom we torture, if you happened to be in Iraq or Afghanistan and our military caught you there, you are a terrorist, no questions asked and certainly no trial.

The accomplishments of the last seventy years? Or did you mean 7. Ok, good job not getting us attacked. But Obama has kept us safe for four months now. Nobody gives him credit if that is the standard.

You say our focus should be on those who hate us, that is a fair point of view. But looking at the last seven years when that has been our whole focus, it doesn't seem to work. We are obligated by the Constitution to improve ourselves internally and in recent years have failed.

We do have common ground though. I think the Congressional Democrats have been horrible and in many ways more obstructionist than Republicans. And they are doing it because they haven't changed their ways. At least the Republicans can claim their objections are based on principles, the democrats have shown no reasons for their behavior except for self interest.

Thanks for the comment, oh, by the way, I didn't want to impress you with my law school reference, just providing context for the conversation. However, my law school experience did teach me to provide facts and context to my arguments, not just fluff and insults.


Iconoclast profile image

Iconoclast 7 years ago from Chicago, IL

Unfortunately for everyone who is "cool" with waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques", the truth is that these practices produced more terrorists than they did answers. All of the recent disclosures show this to be true. In wars past, we, the United States, prosecuted others for the same and equivalent measures as war criminals. Is American exceptionalism to be taken so far as to allow the US to commit acts for which it has prosecuted others? That is circular logic based upon the caveat of exceptionalism, and it is the fallacy of those who want the terrorists treated as they treated others. Major problem: since less than 1 in 7 of those detained have returned to terrorism, what does that ratio say about the probable innocence of those detained? That represents one of the lowest recidivism rates ever. Low recidivism rates are generally indicative of bogus arrests.


bgpappa profile image

bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California Author

Iron, you made my point much better than I ever could.

Simply put, if we engaged the world in the same manner as the terrorists, then why are we better?

Thanks for your comment.

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