13 January 2005

Torture is simply not a good way to get information

Pushing aside issues of moral, legal and consitutional merit, let's deconstruct the torture myth.
Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.

Still, the fact that it is not an effective means of extracting information does not weigh on me as much as the vile and barbaric aura it generates. It definitely is cruel and unusual punishment, and nowhere in the Constitution does it specify non-citizens are life forms devoid of humanity. While we may be battling savages who stoop to even lower levels of physical abuse to satisfy their goals of conquest, I don't believe that we must become monsters of an equivalent scale. We're supposed to be the good guys, who bring justice, not vengeance.

The Bush administration's nominated candidate for Attorney General sanctioned torture and fought to enable more of it, as the Abu Ghraib scandal has exposed.

A very questionable use of taxpayers money that is probably illegal

Armstrong Williams shills for the administration and accepts $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote No Child Left Behind. Williams did not disclose his financial windfall with his nationally syndicated television show's audience.
Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum that produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports. The Bush administration used similar releases last year to promote its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of taxpayers' dollars.

The Bush forces are employing big Public Relations firms to shape public opinion, to strip away all the advances of the past fifty years, and return our society to the squalor of the Gilded Age. The public blindly swallows the propaganda mill, otherwise why would prominent conservatives be investing so much money into such PR campaigns. Other campaigns include the drive to destroy Social Security under an Orwellian guise.

The hypocrisy displayed by the new conservatives is simply astounding and knows no bounds. From these disingenuous glorified state sanctioned informercials to ridding the legislative branch of any ethics checks and enforcement.