"Obviously, intelligence agents have an incentive to hide the use of unlawful methods," says the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer. "On the other hand, when they use rendition and torture as a threat, it's undeniable that they benefit, in some sense, from the fact that people know that intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully. They benefit from the fact that people understand the threat and believe it to be credible." ...This is torture's true purpose: to terrorize—not only the people in Guantánamo's cages and Syria's isolation cells but also, and more important, the broader community that hears about these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to resist—the individual prisoner's will and the collective will. ...As an interrogation tool, torture is a bust. But when it comes to social control, nothing works quite like torture.
But what is that success? "Success" is the destruction of the creative energy of a society. Nations that indulge in torture, like the former Soviet Union, decay from within. Those who are running the torture racket are destroying the foundations of the United States, the root of its power.
There's an article by Peter Davis in The Nation, regrettably not online, in which he explains how El Salvador has become a broken nation. Part of this is the economic impoverishment that is globalization's shadow. But a large part of what is weighing down El Salvador is inside people's minds. Not only the survivors of violence, but also its perpetrators, are so tormented by it that they have ceased to be productive. People describe themselves as "bums." Gangs, which formed among El Salvadorians forced to emigrate to the United States for reasons economic as well as political, have now returned to terrorize at home. The police meet that with repression. And so the cycle of violence spins.
The Old Testament prophets were onto something very important. The root of a nation's strength is in its commitment to truth and justice. Not the pieties about
truth and justice mouthed by leaders who secretly worship heaven knows what gods, but in deeds done to achieve justice and to expose truth. And not just retributive justice, of punishing those who go wrong, but restorative justice, of making whole those who are broken. Not just malicious truth, such as exposing who the past president was fooling around with, but confessional truth, the errors that people like the current president are unable to detect in his own actions.
Today there is argument about whether we are winning or losing in Iraq. But we are losing, have perhaps already lost, the source of strength derived by nations which root themselves in truth and justice.
Torture certainly works... to destroy those nations that use it.
Some more examples of how far we are fallen:
U.S. forces have not held talks with insurgent leaders involved in attacks in Iraq... in remarks that appeared to differ from those of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
vs. On Sunday Rumsfeld said meetings between U.S. representatives and insurgent commanders "go on all the time."
And yet another shoe of the torture centipede:
The United Nations has learned of "very, very serious" allegations that the United States is secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around the world, and notably aboard prison ships, the UN's special rapporteur on terrorism said.