The Torture Candidates
Published: November 14, 2011
As hard as it is to believe, the Republican candidates for president seem to have learned very little from the moral calamities of the administration of George W. Bush. Three of the contenders for the party’s nomination have now come out in favor of the torture known as water boarding. Only two have said it is illegal, and the rest don’t seem to have the backbone to even voice an opinion on the subject.
At Saturday night’s debate in South Carolina, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann said they would approve water boarding of prisoners to extract information. They denied, of course, that water boarding is torture, even though it’s been classified as such since the Spanish Inquisition. “Very disappointed by statements at S.C. GOP debate supporting water boarding,” Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, wrote on Twitter. “Water boarding is torture...
” Only two candidates on the debate stage recognized the danger of the path being advocated by Mr. Cain and Mrs. Bachmann. Representative Ron Paul said water boarding is not only torture, it is illegal, immoral, uncivilized and has no practical advantages. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. eloquently pointed out that water boarding and other forms of torture diminish the nation’s standing in the world.
“We lose that ability to project values that a lot of people in corners of this world are still relying on the United States to stand up for,” he said…”
Also of interest:
· Op-Ed Columnist: Torture and Exceptionalism (November 15, 2011)
· The Loyal Opposition Blog: It's Spelled T-O-R-T-U-R-E(November 14, 2011)
“Is Mr. Cain not aware that leaders have emphatically rejected water boarding and other forms of torture? Did he not know that active and retired military leaders have said that the use of such abhorrent techniques makes it much more likely that U.S. service members would be subjected to such brutality?
“For her part, Ms. Bachmann said she would be “willing to use water boarding” if she were elected president. “I think it was very effective. It gained information for our country.”
Herman Cain’s stated position regarding the use of torture, water boarding is unequivocally torture, is sadly consistent with his stated position with nearly everything else. “Might (money) makes right.” He obviously follows the Cheney/Goebbels school of propaganda – lie big, lie loud, lie often; when in doubt, lie. Cain is apparently often in doubt. His capabilities on intelligence collection seem to be on par with his capabilities on social safety networks, taxation, and foreign policy. Mr. Cain would most likely sell Iran the components they need to complete a bomb.
As for Ms. Bachmann, her lack of acquaintance with reality deepens daily. She may pretend that water boarding is not torture but given her religious fundamentalism, I would not only expect her to use torture techniques against supposed terrorists but others as well when convenient to her campaign and/or term of office. Given the archaic positions, she holds concerning homosexuality, it would not be unexpected to see her reinstitute political police units empowered to sniff out gays, lesbians, and others who deviate from the Vatican and American Taliban’s views on sexuality and gender-specific roles in American life.
The Inquisition was initially about finding and killing apostates and heretics. Under the loving care of the Catholic Church, it soon became a catch all device to use against anyone who failed to meet the then current social, political, and religious standards/norms. We have had our witch trials, our prohibition, our ostracisms, monkey trials, and un-American activities trial. We have a sub-populace of evangelicals all too ready to play “Christians and heretics” at the slightest opportunity, the slightest governmental loss of separation from the pulpits of our Taliban.
Ms. Bachmann needs to be apprised that the history of torture far exceeds what she may view as serving national security. It becomes a tool for the amusement of the powerful and immoral. Water boarding is a gateway torture. It leaves few marks but taps into universal fears and physiology. The awareness that people will lie to end torture becomes a reason to follow up the initial, approved, non-marking, interrogation techniques with more painful, permanently marking techniques; torturing a subject to the point of imminent death in order to extract a confirmatory lie about the lie first extracted.
Ms. Bachmann has claimed that the U.S. has a purpose, the improved treatment of Afghani women, as reason to continue our military presence in Afghanistan. She seems unaware that approved tortures will be applied to females in the military and civilian searches for intelligence and information. She also fails to recognize that women are more at risk of extreme torture than are men. The most extreme and painful tortures were reserved for women in almost every regime that allowed torture.
We don’t need another Cheney in office. We don’t need religious fundamentalist in our government. We don’t need torture allowed as an interrogation tool. In today’s teavangelist slate of candidates, we have all three poised and eager to return to the torture cells of the inquisition.