Torture Will Stay With Us

A reader writes:

I am reading your torture posts again with great dismay. America has gone through periods of torture in the past but has come out of it as the system has slowly pushed back when the “enemy” was defeated, when the fear of the other subsided. This time though we face a problem – terrorism – which may never end. So I wonder will this time be different. Won’t the next, inevitable terrorism attack simply crush the current fragile push back? Isn't the greater likelihood that Cheney and the terrorists define our torturous future?

Yes, it is. Which is why Obama's refusal to tackle it head-on, though politically understandable, may come back to haunt us. And that's why it's essential that the rest of us keep our focus on this and not let it slide and rebut it each and every time the far right uses an incident to whip up the fear that leads to abuse again. Another writes:

Don't forget the simple fact that it actually lets truly guilty people stay safe and warm in order to attempt yet further attacks against soldiers and civilians.  Beyond the sheer terror of learning that a Police Commander in Chicago habitually and institutionally tortured suspects into making false confessions (which prompted then State Senator Obama and numerous others in Springfield to require taping everything that happens inside a jail and interrogation) there is the utter depravity in knowing that countless criminals have been walking the streets thanks to these barbaric methods causing innocent men being locked up in their stead.

The injustice of this is two-fold. First to the innocent man who was tortured and then wrongly incarcerated for years, and second to the victim of the crime that was committed whose perpetrator had managed to stay free for all that time rather than caught and held to account.

Granted prisoners of war and conditions on the battlefield are rather different from Chicago's South Side, but the principles undergirding this travesty of justice remain the same.

How many insurgents and terrorists are free in the Khyber Pass because we grabbed the wrong man and tortured him until he admitted guilt? How many attacks and bomb blasts have occurred because we were too busy chasing the fevered dreams of shepherds whom we had reinvented as criminal masterminds?

How much American blood is on our torturer's hands', hidden under the stain of an Arab's?