Curt A. Torell: Indefensible torture

April 10, 2014 

Eugene Robinson’s April 9 column “ Share the torture report” emphasized the immorality of torture while diminishing the other two: It is illegal and ineffective.

Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” and Article 3, Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, says, “the term ‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession.” The United States is a signatory of both.

What leaked already from the Senate report is that torture was ineffective. This same information is well-documented by others: New York Times correspondent Jane Mayer and Matthew Alexander, the FBI interrogator who elicited information leading to Abu al Zarqawi’s death, are only two. But more than that, torture recruits new terrorists and sympathizers, further endangering our soldiers and national security.

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili said such practices “fostered greater animosity toward the United States, undermined our intelligence-gathering efforts and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.” Yes, torture is immoral, but it’s also illegal and ineffective.

Curt A. Torell


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