Saturday, June 13, 2009

Warning: Doublethink in Play

Don Beavers, a retired Army Intelligence officer, writes at the beginning of his essay (The Eagle 6/12/09):
“The United States of America does not torture prisoners or detainees”
This statement, as well as every statement that contends torture did not take place appears to be predicated on two things:
  • There was no intent to kill
  • They would not suffer lasting harm
Because these two things were not present during the wateboarding or any other “enhanced interrogation” procedure torture did not take place. There is no debate here on what is and what is not torture. It has been clearly articulated by both the UN as well as under the Geneva Convention.
UN: torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Geneva Conventions: "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."
When I hear these arguments - these bold statements of assertion that what did go on did not go on - I immediately think of George Orwell’s “1984”. There is a certain irony at play here, just like by calling it the Ministry of Love, and understanding, while you called it that, what the word “love” meant, and also knowing that torture took place within the Ministry of Love, required simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs - or - what Orwell called “doublethink.”

It is doublethink when Mr. Beavers, Donald Rumsfeld, Eric Holder, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales declare that torture did not take place when they know full well how it is defined. To believe we are a moral nation, to believe we are a nation of laws, to believe we do not torture, and yet knowing we did is a textbook example of doublethink.
…to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.
Mr. Beaver’s ends his essay:
“I did not consider anything I was subjected to [in training] or anything we did to question prisoners to be torture.”
So if waterboarding, which he rates as a “7 or 8” out of 10, is not “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental” or is not a “form of coercion” then what is? To call it anything else ignores the lawful definition and most importantly, ignores the reality of what took place. Mr. Beavers and his ilk know this but will steadfastly adhere to their assertion that torture did not take place.

How could something so despicable and unlawful as torture take place by the US? It could not. So they call it something else - enhanced interrogation, a name that does not mean torture in the same way the windowless Ministry of Love became the place where there is no darkness

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