Torture is wrong: Period - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Torture is wrong: Period

Photo above: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) delivering her committee’s report on the CIA’s use of torture. (YouTube)

Let me start by saying I am not in serious need of a history lesson. Torture advocates toss that around liberally when defending the CIA’s use of torture because they have no other recourse. They can’t really defend using torture as being humane, ore even practical. So they use the horrors of 9-11 to justify torturing other human beings because … why? What they did is, in their eyes, so much worse than torturing people?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney used that canard on several of the Sunday talk shows and his Conservative sycophants have fallen in step with him.

To suggest that those of us who object to our nation resorting to torture have somehow forgotten the horror of 9-11 is absolutely, insanely arrogant — or stupid. Really, you think we, who lived through those days, have forgotten? If you believe that you are either extremely arrogant and full of yourself — or you are a clueless buffoon.

So let me clue you in: we don’t need a history lesson, we haven’t forgotten 9-11 and yes, we think torturing human beings is the same as using four civilian airliners as loaded weapons.

We as a nation don’t do that. We’ve prosecuted Nazis and Japanese soldiers and civilians for engaging in torture, including waterboarding. And now we’re going to use the canards that A) they did much worse and B) the Geneva Conventions don’t apply because the people we tortured were not “uniformed combatants”?

  • You forgot one canard: they aren’t U.S. citizens so as far as some people are concerned they are not covered by our Bill of Rights.
Troops in Afghanistan (YouTube)

Troops in Afghanistan

We are supposed to be not only legally superior to our enemies, but morally superior as well. By using torture on others we become that which we claim to be against, if not worse.

Endangering Our Troops

There is no “good time” to release the contents of that Senate report and as stated in that opinion piece, posted here on the Baltimore Post-Examiner site yesterday, the terrorists are going to do what they want regardless of whether that report is released or not. ISIL were beheading westerners and others before the report was released. Al Qaeda and other terror groups were committing acts of terrorism for years before that report was released. We’ve been at war with these particular terrorists, and others not part of terrorist networks, in Afghanistan and Iraq for 13 years and our troops have been in harm’s way the entire time — there is absolutely no logical way to suggest the release of that report puts our troops in any more peril that they already have been for the past 13 years. So that claim is just a falsehood, straight up.

Let me clue you in on something else here: 4,491 U.S. troops have given their lives in Iraq, hundreds of thousands more have come home with injuries ranging from severe amputations and disfigurement to the unseen damage of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological conditions to “minor” shrapnel wounds and loss of some range of motion.

In Afghanistan 2,201 American service personnel have died and 20,000 injured.

Our troops have been in harm’s way for a long time now. So please, stop using that canard as well.

Pentagon Papers

Blog_EllsbergLet’s go back to Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Richard Nixon, in an attempt to pad his place in history, wanted to open relations with China and use them to pressure the North Vietnamese to come to peace terms.

But in 1968, as he was running against Vice President Hubert Humphrey to become our 37th president, Nixon used the back-channel contact Anna Chennault to convince the South Vietnamese to pull out of the 1968 peace negotiations with the promise that with Nixon as president, South Vietnam would get a better deal. We all know how that turned out.

Henry Kissinger all but eliminated South Vietnam from the peace process and struck a deal with the North in 1973 with what turned out to be empty promises to re-escalate if North Vietnam violated the treaty.

So this idea that somehow Daniel Ellsberg put American lives at risk by leaking the Pentagon Papers is ludicrous. Let me clue you in: by the time Richard Nixon took office in January of 1969, nearly 37,000 American service personnel had died in Vietnam. Our troops were in harm’s way long before the Pentagon Papers were published. In fact troop casualties in Vietnam were declining when the papers were published in the New York Times and continued to decline until 1974, when there was a small spike before we pulled out entirely on April 30, 1974.

So, the argument that release of the Pentagon Papers put U.S. military personnel at risk doesn’t hold water. Not a drop.

Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge were the last two American military personnel killed in Vietnam; both Marines, killed on April 29, 1974 — just one day shy of leaving that place. Charles McMahon had only been in Vietnam 11 days.

Abu Ghraib



Here’s where some may need a history lesson: we’ve known about the CIA’s use of torture for more than eight years now; it’s why President Obama ended that program when he took office. But I was just watching a video of Stephen Colbert’s turn as the entertainment for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner and was reminded we were talking about the torture program back then. We were talking about the NSA wiretapping everyone back then.

Years ago we knew about the innocent man who froze to death while chained naked to a wall. We knew people were being waterboarded and deprived of sleep.  We knew so much of what was happening; it wasn’t a secret to anyone.

We also knew about Abu Ghraib and the torture used there, some of the same torture techniques used by the CIA — and we prosecuted the low-level military personnel for using those torture techniques — which they learned from civilian contractors.

We’ve already prosecuted Americans for torturing prisoners. We just stopped at the low hanging fruit. We didn’t prosecute the people high up in the chain of command who oversaw the torture taking place at Abu Ghraib because that would have been too close to the seat of power — the White House. The people that perpetrated the torture have, so far, been given a pass.

What Is New

What was new in that Senate report was how much the intelligence community lied to Congress about what they were doing to prisoners and how much and how often. Rectal Rehydration? How about we shove a tube up your ass and force stuff into your intestines. Then tell us that isn’t torture. But don’t be like that Fox News knucklehead Sean Hannity. As you may recall Hannity famously said he would be happy to be waterboarded to prove it isn’t torture. For some reason Sean never followed through on that.

The American people needed to see this report and if it gives America another black eye, well that’s the way it goes. After 9-11 we let our government crush our Bill of Rights — except for that all-important Second Amendment — with the misnamed “Patriot Act” and we decided we didn’t need the Geneva Convention and it is okay to torture prisoners of war.

And let’s clear this up: these people are prisoners of war. President George W. Bush declared war against terrorists on September 20, 2001. Either we did or we didn’t. If you’re going to claim we are at war against these people and their ideology, then they are combatants, whether they are carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle or a cheap laptop computer. Every security analyst will tell you the battleground is shifting and the 9-11 terrorists were the first ones to show the new battlefield in such a public display.

We Need to Know



This Senate report needed to be published. The American people need to know what is going on in our name. We need to know how our tax dollars are being used. We need to know the CIA is hacking into Senate computers to destroy evidence. We need to know there were a number of people in the previous administration who objected to this criminal behavior, which is why low-ranking administration employees were given the task of making torture look legal on paper.

We need to know that guys like Dick Cheney think it is okay for innocent people to be brutalized and murdered while in CIA custody if we at least whack a couple of guilty people in the process. Thankfully, the former vice president made that clear Sunday on Meet the Press. He’s very proud and very public about his approval of torture, regardless of the consequences.

It isn’t the publication of this report that has or will provoke Al Qaeda and other enemies of the U.S. — it’s the fact that we did these things contained in the report; horrors we have been talking about publicly for a decade.

The report just confirmed, officially, what we already knew, with even more disturbing details that had otherwise been kept from the public eye.

Kudos to Senator Feinstein and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for releasing this report. There is so much more this government needs to answer for, including the current administration, but this is a good start.

Last: after watching what these terrorists have been doing for the past 15 years, no one — absolutely not one person — suffers under the delusion that the terrorists will conform to a humane moral code if we do. No, we choose this humane moral code because we believe it is the right thing to do, regardless of what other countries and people might choose. So please, drop that from your justification of torture. It’s more than a little insulting.

About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.

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