The US torture policy reveals our decadence, says Andrew O'Hehir. Decadence, meaning a people or society seeking its own deterioration and destruction, is already obvious in our global fossil fuel addiction, in my view. But embracing torture reveals the visceral edge of our Seppuku.
…a summary version of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture of terror-war prisoners. … a truncated and redacted highlights reel, whose release was opposed by the Obama White House, the Republican congressional leadership and of course the CIA itself.
… Detainees forced to stand on broken legs, or deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, or … “rectal feeding and rehydration” … sounds as if it had been borrowed from … horror films…
Torture is a symptom of America’s cultural and political disease, not the disease itself,…
… torture godfather Dick Cheney ... Cheney has never pretended to believe in anything except power, and is untroubled by the fact that the “America” his methods are “keeping safe” bears no relationship to the one in the schoolbooks.
… professor Mark Danner observes that war … exposed American military might as a paper tiger,... It has made us look both weak and evil.
… the criminal acts meant to keep us safe have stripped us bare before the whole world as a lawless and decadent empire that doesn’t look as if it’s worth saving.
… a successor president who has moved on from the threadbare legal arguments used to classify torture as non-torture to the breathtaking position that he holds the right to order the push-button execution of anyone in the world.
… in Nietzsche’s discussion of “decadence,” an important concept in his philosophy, he defines it as a quality that leads people or societies to seek their own deterioration and destruction. (Nietzsche was certainly no fan of democracy, but he also noted that decadent societies were characterized by severe social and economic inequality and a lack of moral and intellectual leadership.) [emphasis mine]
Torture is not just a symptom of decadence or a lack of empathy; it is a failure to acknowledge the long-recognized fact that TORTURE DOESN'T WORK.
To bring more credible testimony to that point, allow me to introduce you to Matthew Alexander, former USAF interrogator, who both conducted and supervised hundreds of such procedures and has a quality of first-hand experience which I doubt Mr. Cheney has the least idea about:
I've always been against torture, mainly because I try to treat everyone the way I want to be treated, and I'd rather be dead than tortured.
Because I'm against it, I was very pleased to learn that it doesn't work.
Research confirms that respectful interrogation of terrorists yields far more information than torture.
A study finds that confessions are four times more likely when interrogators adopt a respectful stance toward detainees and build rapport, instead of torturing.
... some might argue (and some have argued) that torture is a necessary tool for extracting information. ... The Senate investigation revealed that the CIA learned most of the valuable intelligence it gathered during this period through other means. Military leaders have known about the pointlessness of torture for centuries. A quote by Napoleon,... "... The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know." The French leader wrote that in a letter in 1798.
"Disclosure was 14 times more likely to occur early in an interrogation when a rapport-building approach was used. Confessions were four times more likely when interrogators struck a neutral and respectful stance. Rates of detainee disclosure were also higher when they were interrogated in comfortable physical settings."
... support for torture ... was rooted on a desire for payback, not intelligence. [emphasis mine]
Thanks for sharing both the original post and this.
Also worth emphasizing: "regular people were found to be more supportive of torture if they were told the suspect was a terrorist—but not because they thought the suspect had more information. Their support for torture, in other words, was rooted on a desire for payback, not intelligence."