Monday, October 8, 2007
The Value of Torture Depends On the Goal
Torture in Iraq and Gitmo also cows the population here. If they are willing to torture Padilla, then we will damn well give up privacy in phone calls, habeas corpus, freedom to fly on domestic airplanes without taking our friggin shoes off in dirty airports. It means that Bushco means business when it comes to keeping people, all people, in line.
An article that’s making the rounds again about the way the Allies effectively broke down Nazi resistance to testifying after WWII through kindness and playing games of wit with them. It’s very interesting and more evidence against the use of routine torture to “get information”, which is the official excuse for torturing from the Bush administration and all their defenders. It helps to watch lots of “24″ to convince yourself that there’s just oodles of people out there who are one electroshock to the genitals away from spilling all sorts of life-saving information. The article is good—all a refutation of the idea that torture is an effective way of obtaining information.
It’s important to say that torture doesn’t work for obtaining information, but immediately follow it up with, “So if we’re not using torture for information, then what are we using torture for?” And the answer is that we’re torturing in order to cow into submission an unconsenting population we’re ruling over, something that torture is very good at. Information is irrelevant. The government barely had anything to charge Jose Padilla with, and they knew it—they didn’t charge him for years because they were waiting for him to cough up information. They tortured him so badly he lost his mind; if they cared what he knew, they wouldn’t have systematically destroyed his mind and the mysterious information in it. Padilla was a testing ground for the Bush administration to see if they could get away with disappearing people, a la some South American junta, so they could quell the loyal dissent at home with the threat that you could be locked away in prison and have your mind slowly dismantled with no hope for a trial.