It Depends On What The Meaning Of “Torture” Is

Posted by | April 24, 2009 16:19 | Filed under: Top Stories

As long as they can claim that waterboarding isn’t torture, as long as they can say other techniques outlined in the released memos are not torture, they can claim we don’t torture.  And the former RNC spokesman Cliff May has decided that “all forms of stress and duress utilized to elicit cooperation from a terrorist in possession of life-saving information are not torture.” Well, isn’t that nice.  That lets them off the hook. Now they can aver what a fine, upright, moral nation we are because we don’t do those horrible, nasty things like our enemies do.  Just ignore that the techniques we use date back to the Spanish Inquisition and, in more modern times, Communist China.  Forget that after World War II we prosecuted those who used these very techniques during war crime trials.  But knowing the history of these abuses now isn’t convenient.

And while Mr. May is defining torture his way, he’s trying to tell what Islam is as well:

Islamists believe their religion forbids them to cooperate with infidels – until they have reached the limit of their ability to endure the hardships the infidel is inflicting on them.*


And why the asterisk, you ask? Well, that’s so that we can refer to that great theocratic scholar Abu Zubaydah:

“Brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardships.” – Abu Zubaydah, quoted in released CIA memos


Don’t you just love that when it suits them, terrorists are great references.  Normally, they believe you have to torture them to get anything out of them, because they’re a bunch of thugs and liars.  But we are to take bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubayda’s word for what a Muslim is when it suits us, because that gives us the ability to define and then diminish all Muslims, and make them all the enemy.

If we can so readily trust the words of a terrorist, how about trusting the words of the FBI agent who questioned him,  Ali Soufan, who was able to obtain actionable intelligence from Abu Zubayda before he was tortured, and who says:

There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions – all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.


So let’s use the words of an extremist to tell us what a Muslim is, but let’s ignore the words of an American FBI man who knows what methods work and what methods don’t.   May then goes on:

But just try to get anyone in the “anti-torture” camp to seriously debate any of this.

Mr. May, I’m your man.  I am proudly in the “anti-torture” camp.  I have spoken and written extensively about this. And I’ll have the words of a great American hero, John McCain, to back me up.

Want to have a serious debate about this?  As one infamous American president once regrettably blustered, “Bring ’em on!”

Oh, yeah, I forgot, “This government does not torture people!…There are highly trained professionals questioning these extremists and terrorists…professionals who are trained in this kind of work…and by the way we have gotten information from this high-value detainees…”

And how about highly trained professionals like Special Agent Soufan, who writes:

Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don’t add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May.

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Copyright 2009 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.

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