Earlier this week, four significant memos written by the Bush administration between 2002 and 2005 on the interrogation of terror detainees were released. Among the interrogation documents released, was a list of 13 techniques authorized by the Justice Department for use by the C.I.A. on high-level suspects. The NY Times details some of the methods in their article on Friday, "Interrogation memos detail harsh tactics by the CIA". However, the reason I am writing this entry is not to dwell on techniques approved by the Bush administration and applied to unsavory characters, but to revisit a blog entry I wrote in November 2007, "What are Values?".
I know that many Americans have no problem with the thought of the U.S. torturing individuals or using any necessary means to secure the greater good for the public. Although I think I can make a strong argument that torturing people is not an effective way to get reliable information, I wanted to respond to the news of these memos for a different reason. When I think of men torturing people, I conjure up images of communist Russia and China or rogue nations like Chad, Syria and Iran - these are places where liberty is unknown. For reasons rooted in our Judeo-Christian culture and our founding political ideals (the very things that make us such a unique and special country) I can not imagine an America that would engage in serious dialog about ‘acceptable torture techniques'.
There should be nothing acceptable about torture. Are we a nation that hold our ideals true or do we only speak of these values (i.e. sanctity of life, rights of all individuals, etc…) when we are correcting our children or in our respective houses of worship? I expect our country to walk the talk and lead by example – not footnote exceptions for torturing individuals when our very ideals become inconvenient. I can not reconcile the image of a United States that condones torture with the image of my country when we are at our best. Martin Luther King appealed to the better side of Man in his "I have a dream" speech. I have chosen this excerpt which I think better expresses my fears and hopes for a better America.
“In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
Martin Luther King – I Have a Dream, 1963