Press Missing Key Issues of U.S. Torture Policy

It is inexcusable for scientists to torture animals; let them make their experiments on journalists and politicians. — Henrik Ibsen

According to ABC, “all American officials including intelligence agents are barred from using torture in interrogating terror suspects and other prisoners.”

U.S. torture policy is being reviewed by the UN Committee Against Torture. As expected, the U.S. had a weak defense for their actions, although one could hardly tell this from press accounts. Here’s an example from IHT:

More than 100 U.S. military personnel and intelligence officers have been disciplined for abusing detainees, U.S. officials said before an international panel investigating the treatment of prisoners by the United States in its fight against terrorism. The number is nearly twice that cited by human rights groups.

Let’s take a look at the actual punishments rendered:

Charles Stimson, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, said the United States had court-martialed 103 service members and intelligence officers since 2001, leading to 19 convictions with jail terms of a year or more.

So we’ve essentially given most everyone a walk on this (except for a handful of scapegoats) and the media is talking about the disparities in the numbers various groups have presented. We need to look at the big picture. While torture continues in America and abroad, 80% of those accused get away with it and most of the rest get mere slaps on the wrist.

posted by Stephen Gordon
  • Lenny Zimmermann

    A simple declaration of “More than 100″ in and of itself tells me that it is unconscionable that the government would attempt to hide behind the guise of any of this being the poor judgement or malicious acts of a few individuals. It says to me, instead, that it is simply policy. Being policy means it is just as unconscionable for the government to turn around and prosecute individual soldiers for, effectively, following orders. (Although it should be understood that it IS the duty of every U.S. soldier to disobey unlawful orders.) It is those who would pass on the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” acceptance of torture as policy that should be put out to dry.

  • Julian (a Vietnam Vet)

    Why not execute the torturers without benefit of a trial or court martial? Hell, they could be shot just as we apparently condone the execution of gays.

    I don’t know what to believe anymore when reading some of the blogs here. One day we are condoning the execution of homosexuals and the next day we are condoning the use of torture. Sounds as we are a criminal country. Is that what you believe Stephen? Is there nothing positive about the USA and the people who live here? Maybe the answer is to nuke ourselves since we are so horrible.

  • john

    julian, what part of “calling them as he sees them” is so hard for you to understand?