Needless, Useless Torture

Response to Daily Herald’s “Most People Polled Support Torture of Terror Suspects”

One would assume that when the United States in 1994 ratified the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the discussion over when and how much torture will be tolerated will never come up again. The convention clearly states, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Yet, in a recent poll, 61 percent of Americans agreed that torture is justified on rare occasions (“Most people polled support torture of terror suspects,” Dec. 7). This majority serves the interests of those in the Bush administration who want to legalize the use of torture by the CIA.

Americans should know from years of stories about police brutality and forced confessions that the statements of a person tortured may not necessarily be true. The claims now that prewar intelligence on Iraq were made up in order for the prisoner to escape harsh treatment proves this well.

They should also know from experience that sometimes, the wrong person is tortured. Khalid al-Masri endured five months of torture by the CIA before it was realized that he was not the man they were looking for.

The U.S. government cannot legalize torture for anyone because it has agreed to the U.N. Convention. Now Americans need to realize that always treating alleged criminals as human beings will always ensure that not once is an innocent human tortured.