The Two Way Street

Politics for a New Generation


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An Unequivocal Argument Against Use of “Enhanced Interrogation” Techniques

When a prisoner is water-boarded, a wet rag is placed over the mouth or face and water is poured through into the throat to simulate drowning.

There are endless reasons not to torture POWs. It’s morally wrong, ¬†extremist groups use it as a recruiting technique, and it gives us a bad reputation internationally. Techniques such as sleep deprivation, 20 hour long interrogations, and, as the demonstration on the right shows, water-boarding, are used to compel prisoners to talk. Techniques such as these are intended to wear down the prisoner until he is willing to give up information, however the prisoner is more likely to lie to the interrogators, putting the lives of those who are tasked with investigation the intelligence in danger, or at least wasting their time and funds. And of course, that’s what they want to happen anyway.

Dick Cheney says that water-boarding is not torture, however, Bush administration officials used a program designated to train soldiers to withstand “torture” in Vietnam and the Gulf War, to develop techniques such as water-boarding, physical violence, and deprivation. Documents show that Cheney himself signed on to the program, in his desperation for info during the year following 9/11.

Politicians such as Dick Cheney now argue that taking enhanced interrogation off the table jeopardizes our chances of receiving information, but that is disproved by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallib, otherwise known as the underwear bomber. Abdul Mutallab was mirandized immediately following being taken into FBI custody, and yet, he continued to talk, telling agents of his connections to Al Qaieda, and the methods they use to train operatives. By bringing his parents to the US to see him, the FBI managed to de-program him and bring him back to less radical beliefs.

Many white, right-wing middle American “patriots” say that Muslim “enemy combatants” don’t have rights because they are not US citizens. They are partially correct. POWs arrested on foreign soil do not have the right to remain silent, or the right to an attorney, whether or not they can afford one, according to both United States and international law. However, the United States signed the Geneva Convention, promising that we would not torture POWs, after seeing our men tortured by Axis forces.

Thomas Jefferson said that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” While criminals are imprisoned, their freedom of speech, religion, and of making their own choices are preserved, therefore preserving their ability to pursue happiness. For tortured prisoners, however, this is not the case. Prisoners cannot speak freely, worship their own God, or engage in leisure activity without fear of being hit, malnourished or deprived. Tortured prisoners are stripped of the ability to pursue any form of happiness. And, fighting inequality of colonists versus Englishman, do you think that Jefferson meant only one group of people, Americans, deserved these rights?