If you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself. Today the Philadelphia Inquirer printed an amputated version of my letter. The topic? Karl Rove, who says he's "proud" that the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ...that waterboarding is not torture...and that we obtained oh so much information that way.
Note the circular justification: 1) Waterboarding is not torture, and 2) even if it is, it got us info. That former government officials can brazenly admit to torture, justify it, and claim that it has benefits (uh...not for the victim, of course), and all with absolute impunity, is symptomatic of what Hannah Arendt called "the banality of evil."
Well, since the Inquirer let me down, here's my letter in its original form, supplemented with pertinent links:
Karl Rove has just declared in an interview on the BBC that he is “proud we used techniques that broke the will of terrorists” and says that waterboarding is not torture. Perhaps he will go on to tell us why waterboarding was considered torture when the Japanese used it, or why it won’t be considered torture when it is used some day on our own captured service personnel. But most of all, I would like to hear Mr. Rove’s explanation of how our country came to sink so low.
Waterboarding and all the other so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" approved for use by the CIA and chillingly described in memos released in April of last year are illegal, immoral, and indefensible acts. However, like one hand washing the other, Mr. Rove and Mr. Cheney take every possible opportunity to defend the indefensible, giving cover to John Yoo and Jay Bybee in payback for the spurious legal cover they so compliantly provided the Torture Team back in 2002.
Waterboarding is torture, Mr. Rove, and it is nothing to be proud of.
I mean, even the Inspector General of the CIA complained in his report that "the use and frequency of one EIT [enhanced interrogation technique], the waterboard, went beyond the projected use of the technique as originally described to DoJ." (p.5) This in reference to the fact that "Khalid Shaykh Muhammad received 183 applications of the waterboard in March 2003" (p. 91)
183 applications...must be habit forming.
If anyone would have told me back in 2001 that my government would even be considering the use of torture, I'd have said they were crazy. Then when I started reading serious discussions about it in the newspapers and magazines, I sent contributions to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for the first time.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture says it best in their Statement of Conscience:
Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved -- policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed? Let America abolish torture now -- without exceptions.
Show Mr. Rove that torture is nothing to be proud of. Sign NRCAT's Statement of Conscience now.