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06/10/2004 Archived Entry: "The Torture Memo"

I KEEP OPENING A COPY OF THE TORTURE MEMO -- at least the most famous of the various torture memos (link goes to article from which you can access the .pdf file). But I can't make myself read it. I've heard, but I can't actually bring myself to look at, American "leaders" saying that physical or mental cruelty isn't torture unless the pain is equivalent to "major organ failure" or death. Cattle prods? Not torture. Being kept naked in icy black cages? Not torture. Shocks to the testicles? Not torture. Being forced to squat in cramped positions for hours? Not torture. Being held in solitary confinement for years, without your family even knowing where you are? Not torture.

I can't bring myself to read a lawyerly discourse on how it's criminal if an American government agent actually intends to inflict that level of pain, but it's perfectly legal if he or she merely has a reasonable expectation that his or her actions will cause intense pain and suffering.

I keep hearing administration apologists justifying this stuff by saying, "Our enemies do it, so why shouldn't we?" And I think, what if we'd gone into WWII, claiming a right to commit mass murder of civilians, simply because our enemies did. Or that we had a right to torture captured German soldiers -- and even kill them, as long as we only claimed a "supposition:" or an "expectation," rather than a full-blown intent to slaughter.

It would be poetic justice if the people who advocated these twisted, lawyerly forms of suffering were subjected to the kind of pain they say isn't really torture. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Harvard grad. I know that broomstick we just shoved up there hurt a bit. But that memo you wrote said it wasn't torture. So here we go again ..."

Still hope it never happens like that. Please, let's just let this country come back to its senses -- especially it's sense of decency.

I know it's denial. But as long as I don't actually read the memo I can tell myself every one of the news reports is wrong and that no American administration ever has, or ever would, use twisted logic and polilte legal language to justify becoming exactly like the worst enemies of human life and human freedom.

Posted by Claire @ 11:26 AM CST

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