America’s Shame

Nations that use torture disgrace themselves. Armed forces and police that torture inevitably become brutalized and corrupted. “Limited” use of torture quickly becomes generalized. “Information” obtained by torture is mostly unreliable.

I learned these truths over fifty years covering dirty “pacification” wars, from Algeria to Indochina, Central and South America, southern Africa, the Mideast, Afghanistan, and Kashmir in which torture was commonly used.

In spite of all the historical evidence that torture is counterproductive, the Bush administration encouraged torture of anti-American militants (aka “terrorists”) after the 9/11 attacks. The full story has not yet been revealed, but what we know so far is revolting and shameful. Britain and Canada were also complicit as they used information derived from torture and handed suspects over to be tortured.

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