How the Report on Torture Misses the Point

Guantanamo Bay, CUBA:  FOR USE WITH AFP STORIES: US-attacks-UN-Guantanamo (FILES) This 17 January, 2002, file photo shows a d
Guantanamo Bay, CUBA: FOR USE WITH AFP STORIES: US-attacks-UN-Guantanamo (FILES) This 17 January, 2002, file photo shows a detainee (2nd L) wearing an orange jump suit surrounded by heavy security at the US Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. UN experts said on 16 February, 2006, the US must shut down the detention center without delay and release or try its inmates. The demand came in a report by five independent experts who act as monitors for the UN Human Rights Commission. The document charged that US treatment of the more than 500 'war on terror' detainees held in legal limbo at the naval base in Cuba violated their rights to physical and mental health and in some cases amounted to torture. The White House blasted the UN report, alleging abuse of inmates and calling for closing the facility, as 'a discredit to the UN.' AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SCHMIDT/FILES (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

I would consider it very exciting that the report on torture said in an official paper that torture is an unreliable source of information -- if it were not so thoroughly missing the larger point that needs to be made. Torture is not a thing that people should do to one another.

I know that Dick Cheney is still out lying about how effective the torture program was despite a congressional report saying that it was not effective at all. I also know that he would prefer that people who were tortured to death be described as having been advanced interrogation techniqued to death.

All of this back and forth over whether or not torture is effective (it's not), whether it protected us from terrorist attacks (it did not), whether it led us to the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden (it did not) means nothing, though. Even if torture were an effective means of gathering intelligence (it's not) I would be opposed to it and I would want to live in a country that places at least some basic human decencies above its own quest for military dominance. I would rather live in a nation that strives to be morally decent, than one that can justify any means if they lead to an end -- and, in this case, an end that seems never to end.

Recently I posted an excerpt from the torture report on Twitter with the caption "This is what happens when people believe themselves the good guys and others evil." A follower of my feed responded trollishly, "We don't behead people." Since the recent beheadings by ISIS come a decade after the events outlined in the torture report, his premise here, I suppose, is that we hold the moral high ground retroactively as long as someone can sink lower than we have.

I think we can all agree that as gruesome as beheadings on camera may be, the people beheaded are neither more nor less dead than those killed by bombs, by the guns of uniformed soldiers or by drone attacks.

(Let me say parenthetically that I also don't think we should be killing people with bombs, guns or drones, but that's another blog for another time that I have difficulty believing needs so desperately to be written.)

My point is this. Torturing people is wrong. Not only is it wrong, it is also ineffective. As the party that talks all the time about personal responsibility and accountability, you'd think the Republican Party would have some very harsh words for the people who wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on such a reprehensible and wasteful program, wouldn't you? Yeah. I didn't think so.