On Torture

Washington, DC (TFC) – This morning we published an article by former CIA counterterrorism expert John Kiriakou on our US Edition, The Pontiac Tribune, in which he condemned the use of torture. I felt it necessary to include a disclosure about my stance on torture at the bottom of the article. A disclosure notice is not something taken lightly. In essence, it is saying the journalist or editor might have a political, religious, monetary, or ideological conflict of interest in regards to certain piece that he or she cannot set aside. Think about that. The moral fabric of this country has deteriorated to the point where being against torture is political stance, rather than a given. There’s no way to package that in the Stars and Stripes, or a Lee Greenwood song, or any other stand by American propaganda tool to hide the disgrace that comes along with a country sanctioning torture.

Like Mr. Kiriakou, over the course of my life I’ve been subjected to many of the forms of torture used by the US: waterboarding, sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, solitary confinement, stress positions, and light physical abuse. Kiriakou and I may differ on what we view as acceptable forms of torture in extreme situations, but we agree (along with most of the informed world) that waterboarding, rectal feeding and hydration, and sexual abuse are over the line.

Waterboarding, in particular, has become a political talking point. Presidential hopefuls are trying to appear tough by stating they would reinstitute the war crime. These men, and I use the term loosely, have to take such an extreme stance because they need to conceal their utter lack of experience. There’s a saying in the world of those that have seen combat that goes something along the lines of “those who talk the most have done the least.” It apparently holds true in politics as well. One of the candidates who blusters about waterboarding the most and who is so very willing to send your sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters to die used medical deferments to make certain he was ineligible for service when it was his generation’s turn to pick up a rifle. These men aren’t tough guys. They aren’t going to protect you because they don’t care about you.

When Donald Trump’s son went on national television to tell the country his daddy would make America great again by torturing people and compared waterboarding to frat house antics, I publicly challenged him and his father to undergo a waterboarding demonstration with me. I even offered to campaign for him if he didn’t break. We’ve yet to obtain a response from either tough guy.

Setting aside the moral argument for a moment, Kiriakou points out:

“the torture techniques employed by the Bush administration after 9/11 were unreliable. They produced no actionable intelligence, disrupted no terrorist attacks, and saved no American lives.”

Image Source: Jim Aahgo Anderson VIa Justin King

Image Source: Jim Aahgo Anderson VIa Justin King

Not only is this true, the torture program cost American lives. Most of the casualties inflicted in Iraq were caused by foreign fighters who flocked to Iraq after the torture program was discovered. Another little known correlation is that prior to the torture program being discovered, the Iraqis behaved as one would expect a military to behave. All but one of our POWs were returned, and the single incident of an American prisoner being killed while in Iraqi captivity prior to the torture program being outed appears to have been a mercy killing. Even in that case, the Iraqis made certain to leave the body where it would be recovered by allied forces. They didn’t desecrate it.

The candidates attempting to sound tough are showing their ineptitude. They are advocating policies which killed American soldiers. The Fifth Column presented all of these findings in a single article last year.

Kiriakou spent a couple of years in federal prison after he blew the whistle on the torture program. Perhaps it’s the Celtic blood flowing through my veins, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that a felon’s cap is the noblest crown a free man can wear. The question of whether Kiriakou had made the transition, like so many of us, from foot soldier of the empire to dissident arose recently. He answered: 

“So am I a dissident? I don’t know. I don’t care.

The important thing is that I’ve become passionate in my defense of our constitutional rights. I have an inalienable right to freedom of speech, and I’ll continue to exercise it — even at the risk of getting locked up again.

As more of us tough it out in prison, the government will lose its power to take our rights away. As more of us write and speak about government overreach, our chances of preserving our freedoms will grow.

It’s worth the risk.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s worth risking prison and more if necessary. This country is at a crossroads. Either what we hold to good and moral and true is good and moral and true, or we need to prepare ourselves for the slide into complete tyranny. As people cheer for candidates who are advocating the suspension of basic morality and law, they seem oblivious to the fact that soon they will be the ones with the rag over their face, struggling to breathe as they listen to government interrogators talk about raping their loved ones. The voters of this country are cheering as they sign their own deaths warrants.