15 3 mins 13 yrs

SO a US government official has admitted that a terrorist has been tortured in Gitmo:

“Susan Crawford, who oversees the tribunals for terror suspects at the US base in Cuba, said she believed the interrogation of Saudi national Mohammed al-Qahtani amounted to torture …/

“After his capture in Afghanistan, Qahtani was subjected to 48 days of torture from November 2002 to January 2003, usually lasting 18 to 20 hours. He was stripped naked in front of female interrogators, subjected to extreme cold and kept in isolation for five months. He was threatened by a military dog named Zeus and was led around a room naked on a leash and told to perform dog tricks, according to an official summary of his interrogation seen by the Post.”

Torture is wrong. It is plainly, objectively wrong. The United States is a great nation that ought to be above that kind of thing, even if in this case al-Qahtani’s nails remain attached to his fingers, his genitals weren’t wired to a generator and nobody stood behind him, knife drawn to take his head from his shoulders. What US authorities did in this case shames the nation and betrays its very founding principles. But when I read why he wound up in Guantanamo Bay –

“He was due to meet Mohammed Atta, the plot’s leader on August 4 2001 at the flight school in Florida, but was denied entry to the US by a suspicious immigrations officer.”

 – I simply don’t care about what happened to him. I still think of what happened to almost 3000 people on that day, of those who were vapourised in aircraft, those forced to jump to their deaths from hundreds of feet or who disappeared when those towers come down on them while they went up to rescue others. And when I think of the unimaginable misery that al-Qahtani intended to help bring about, I simply cannot rouse the slightest sympathy for him.

I just don’t care.

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15 thoughts on “Unmoved

  1. Sure, however (and I forget where I read this but will try to dig it out if necessary) there is some pretty good evidence that torture has led reasonably directly to recruitment of terrorists and the deaths of many (for example via IEDs).

    So it’s not just wrong, it’s dumb and counterproductive.

  2. Pete, this is one of those big issues that has me torn in two directions.

    Emotionally, I couldn’t give a flip if he was tortured. He was a bad character. Neither do I feel any pangs over any other similar detainee getting tortured if it saved lives by preventing another attack. I just don’t care.

    On the other hand, the rational, reasoning part of me hates that this happened. I don’t want us to be like them. I expect that my government is going to treat prisoners within the parameters of the law and that those laws should not be broken. If they can stoop to treating the laws with that much disregard in this situation, it’s not a huge step to imagine other situations were the government feels comfortable ignoring statutes that stand in their way.

    Honestly, this one ties me in knots.

  3. I always think that torture does not get people to confess or reveal truths that will help the fight against terror, but will simply cause the torturee to say whatever will please his captors at the time even if it just buys him a temporary release from the pain. For that reason it can cause people to lie but to the satisfaction of his interrogators (YES I DID IT) but to the countereffect of the battle against terror

  4. You can hate the violation of the principle without feeling any sympathy for the subject. That said, the above described as ‘torture’ is stretching the term just a tad, and I’m thinking this Crawford woman is now pissing her pants at the thought of Obama listening to the wingnuts and looking for scapegoats to prosecute.

  5. Quit the hand-wringing guys.

    Torture will always happen if a major terrorist attack is suspected. Suppose a suspect is being interrogated on good intelligence that there is a nuclear device primed to explode in London / New York / Paris. Do you think that torture would be justifiably used in that scenario, if it was likely to help prevent such an atrocity?

    Torture is barbaric and its routine use in certain countries is apalling. But in certain limited circumstances it is justified as the lesser of two evils.

    And I’m not saying that it was justified in this particular instance, though I couldn’t care less about the well-being of this blood-thirsty fanatic.

  6. Authorities holding a terrorist with knowledge of an imminent attack should, to quote Pulp Fiction, go Hiroshima on his ass.

    A mere captive, even one connected to terrorists, should not be tortured.

  7. Mahons,

    "Authorities holding a terrorist with knowledge of an imminent attack"

    Just as authorities holding a magic lantern should wish for three more wishes when the genie pops out.

    How would they know they had such a terrorist? What should happen to them if they exceed those criteria and how would anyone know?


    "Suppose a suspect is being interrogated on good intelligence that there is a nuclear device primed to explode in London / New York / Paris. Do you think that torture would be justifiably used in that scenario, if it was likely to help prevent such an atrocity?"

    Would it be justifiable to torture his mother, wife or child for the same result? Would it be justifiable to start shooting his extended family in front of him until he talks? If not why not?

    The fact is that there is no evidence torture has saved anyone.

    There is however pretty good evidence that torture has recruited many terrorists, and that has led to many deaths of soldiers and civilians. Those who cheer for it are not just immoral, but dangerous.

    Incidentally it seems that Bush has admitted to authorising torture, claiming he had legal advice that it was OK. If that is true then he should be prosecuted as ignorance is no defence.

  8. I am with Colm here, torture doesnt get you the truth just the answer you want to hear. And therefor gets you nothing

    I wonder how many of those upgrades to the terrorism alert system were based on information obtained through torture and were ultimately proven false because it wasnt the truth just the answer the torturer wanted to hear

  9. "He was led around a room naked on a leash and told to perform dog tricks", I wonder if George Galloway gave him tips into how to play a four legged, domestic animal?

  10. Sean

    That’s not necessarily true.

    Khalid Sheik Mohammad was waterboarded ( which some call torture ) and he caved in a few minutes and is believed to have given much valuable information

    Most of the time when information is obtained, it will not be made public.

    One of the grave injustices is that CIA and other people often work in silence under very harsh circumstances and that their good works keeping us safe are rarely ever known. Yet when something allegedly goes wrong, the Human Rights Industry villifies them on the front pages pf the world’s newspapers.

  11. Are those who are opposed to torture saying that it should not be used under any circumstances?

  12. ‘I too am sorry. Sorry he is still alive.’

    Still glorifying in the deaths of others I see David. Though in this case, it’s a wish, or a regret that it didn’t happen. Pitiful.

    ‘Comments on articles here are unmoderated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Tangled Web or David Vance.’

    The above quote, however, is directly from you, so presumably IS your view. We are all created equal, but some are more equal than others. Some lives are worth more than others, some are just worthless.

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