How Did Torture Become More Terrible Than Killing?

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Over four months into the new Democratic Presidential administration, the debate on torture has been front and center in the discussions of the previous Republican Presidential administration.  We’ve seen the former VP and his daughter of all people, repeatedly go on national TV to defend and actually extoll the virtues of torture.  Obama and his team have waffled and wheezed at every turn on what to do with the evidence and there is no sign as yet that his and AG Holders proclamations about “justice” will bear fruit to those of us outraged at torture in our names.  

So why all the outrage about torture?  The plain fact of the matter is that the U.S. has been involved in the torture game for decades.  The evidence is very clear.  From the Church hearings in the seventies, to the countless books on CIA operations, we can know that torture has been used, either by the U.S., or through intermediaries, under virtually every U.S. President.  

So ya, we torture all right.  We’re a world power in that too. But what about the killings?  Why doesn’t the killing of our soldiers and innocent civilians create as much systemic outrage as torture?  As much as we know about torture, we also know the Iraq “attack of another country” was illegal, based on lies.  Even Cheney admitted as much recently although he didn’t admit the lies.  Torture was simply one of those lies used to justify that “attack of another country”.  

On May 4th, 130-140 innocent civilians were killed in a bombing by the U.S. in the Farah Province of Afghanistan.  Women and children for criss sake.  The U.S. is admitting the mistake while trying to cover it up.  Jeremy Scahill is right in calling for accountability and justice for the victims:

  http://www.commondreams.org/vi…

Although this is probably the worst incident of direct U.S. involvement in the killing of innocent civilians since the invasion in 2001, we all know of many lesser numbered killings, such the “wedding parties”.    In 1995, a federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed and 168 innocent civilians lost their lives.  Our country went into shock.   Nearly that many are killed by our U.S. military in another country and our country is numb.  

President Obama has said “We don’t torture, anymore”.  That’s another story.  I wish he would come out and say, “We don’t kill innocent civilians, anymore”.  Looks like its too late for that.  May 4th was clearly on his watch.

Consider a defendant charged with the rape, torture and murder of a woman.  Three different charges committed during the same crime event.  The charges of rape and torture carry twenty year sentences.  The charge of murder carries a life sentence.  There’s a reason for that.  

Everyone and his sister is crying out about torture in our names.  We need to also cry out about these insane hegemonic adventures the U.S. is continuing under Obama, and the killing of innocent civilians.  Until we can “change” the military industrial complex that is ruling this country, there will never be any real change, and the killing of innocent women and children will continue in your name.  

Crossposted at Daily Kos  

20 comments

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    • Underdog on June 6, 2009 at 3:51 am
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    • rb137 on June 6, 2009 at 7:02 am

    About torture:

    It is a significant factor toward creating the largest army of anti-American Jihadis that we’ve ever seen — and Dick Cheney + friends lied us into this national security problem.

    It was used, in part, to forge an unnecessary war on Iraq — and Dick Cheney + friends lied us into this, as well.

    It makes the United States into a country of war criminals — and Dick Cheney + friends are still insisting that we did not torture.

    But mostly, it is because of the unnecessary suffering. All of the suffering that our country has bestowed upon humanity.

    But I’m all for not killing, too. Not killing is good.

    • halef on June 6, 2009 at 9:40 am

    … those affected by it do.  And they resent it.  They resent the fact that their loved ones are dead for no reason obvious to them.  They resent the fact of their powerlessness – that death and destruction comes from a faceless rocket or drone, without warning or possibility of defence.

    So against this “asymmetrical” threat, they will react asymmetrically.  They may not agree with the terrorists, but they won’t resist the terrorists, either – and therein lies the strength of terrorists.  Finance etc. are important to terrorists as well, but without the tacit connivance of a large part of the population, terrorists cannot survive.

    A very instructive story is the history of the Malaya Insurgency; a key element in the British success was this:

    In purely military terms, the British Army recognized that in a low-intensity war, the individual soldier’s skill and endurance was of far greater importance than overwhelming firepower (artillery, air support, etc.) Even though many British soldiers were conscripted National Servicemen, the necessary skills and attitudes were taught at a Jungle Warfare School, which also worked out the optimum tactics based on experience gained in the field.

    • kj on June 6, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    So ya, we torture all right.  We’re a world power in that too. But what about the killings?  Why doesn’t the killing of our soldiers and innocent civilians create as much systemic outrage as torture?  As much as we know about torture, we also know the Iraq “attack of another country” was illegal, based on lies.  Even Cheney admitted as much recently although he didn’t admit the lies.  Torture was simply one of those lies used to justify that “attack of another country”.

    Torture is but (yes, I’m actually saying that!) an element of war.  It isn’t separate, it is part and parcel.  

    • kj on June 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    post here often and are unflagging in their efforts to bring awareness of war to the nets.  much respect.

    http://iraqmoratorium.org/

    https://www.docudharma.com/user

    thank you for this essay, underdog.  i’ve been trying to point this out in comments now and then, but your essay really broadens the point really well.  kudos.

    • Underdog on June 6, 2009 at 5:10 pm
      Author
  1. That is never ever going to change. It is one of the reasons you should never go to war when you do not have to.

    But torture is another level of heinousness. It is worse than killing as when you kill someone their suffering is over. When you torture someone you are intentionally extending and intensifying their suffering.

    More than that, the damage that you do to your society is long term, when you allow, justify and accept torture. It eats away a civil society as long as it fails to be punished.

    Loss of life is always tragic but there are worse things than dying. The living in fear that results from a society that tortures is far, far worse than death.  

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