advent journal: answer this question


As I was driving to and from work today I heard interviews on NPR related to what is being called “The Torture Report,” or the “Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” which looked at the secret prisons the CIA ran around the world after September 11, 2001. (And I read this summary.) They were justified as being what we needed to do to find Osama bin Laden and make the world safe again, or at least make us feel less scared.

When their practices first came to light, government officials came up with the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to avoid admitting that the people being held were being tortured. In the interviews today they were still holding that line of defense. When Robert Seigel asked rather pointedly if the ex-Congress member thought what was done was torture, Pete Hoekstra went into a song and dance about what was legal. Siegel asked if “in common language” what was done would be understood as torture. Hoekstra replied, “I can see how it could be considered torture.”

The questions I wanted someone to ask was, “If one of your family was in detention and these tactics were used on them, would you still say they were ‘enhanced techniques’?” and “When these kind of tactics have been used on our soldiers when they were prisoners of war, did we still see them as acceptable behavior?”

To justify what we have done and are doing by saying the terrorists are wicked people and we have to play their game to get them is not something I am willing to accept. It doesn’t make sense. I realize we live in a violent world. I realize there are people who want to do Americans harm. How does egregiously injuring some of them lessen the threat of their violence against us? How does imitating their inhumanity offer any chance of peace? In our fear and fury over the last decade and a half, we have spent lots of money, done lots of damage, and destabilized two countries. How has responding to violence with violence made things better?

It hasn’t.

Whatever defense is offered for our torturing uncharged detainees in secret prisons on foreign soil so they could sidestep American law cannot stand up to the question, “If these same actions were being done to someone you care about, would it still be OK with you?”

Then it shouldn’t be OK for anyone.



  1. Peace indeed. Thank you, Milton, and I think you have hit the nail on the head. What is legally ok to do to the scary terrorist, I should accept to happen to my sons if accused under similar suspicions. I would absolutely NOT be ok with that.

  2. I would like to deal with 3 additional questions. First, the classic one: Do the ends justify the means? The Cheney response is, well, duh, of course. We can save many American lives by making one terrorist’s life miserable. (I’m not defending this.) But that leads to the second question: Will the means acheive the end? And this report (along with other data) shows that the answer is clearly no. Third, have war crimes been committed in our name? The answer to that question is clearly yes. I favor pardoning Bush, Cheney, Rice, and all others. This is for 2 reasons. The need for the pardon shows unequivocally that these acts are illegal and will make it harder justify them in the future. Moreover, pardons will make them really really angry.

  3. All day yesterday I was reminded of a hymn in our UMethodist , The Faith We Sing, text by Shirley Erena Murray, music by Carlton Young, The title: God Weeps.

  4. I cannot offer an effective solution on how to deal with terrorists and criminals, but I do know that “killing people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong”, is not the answer. It’s insanity. Compliments of Holly Near.

  5. I can never wrap my mind around torturing as a means of interrogation. I feel that to use barbarism to reduce barbarism is ridiculous. I feel the ones responsible for condoning the torture should be punished. We pride ourselves on being a non-barbaric country and look down on societies where kidnapping, rape and torture are rampant and then we behave the same way. No, this is not the USA I want to be in.

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