Opinion and Editorial

Tales of torture

Filed on December 11, 2014

Torture is condemnable under any pretext, but states often make use of the tactic in desperation to elicit information.

What has come as a surprise is the conscience that this CIA interrogation report has sparked. US President Barack Obama was candid, as he said: “What sets us apart is that when we do something wrong, we acknowledge it.” He not only spoke for himself but for the millions around who have take an exception to the tactics of terror and torture that his predecessor, George W. Bush, adopted to further the impugned war on terrorism.

The US Senate report, which documents a troubling programme including enhanced interrogation techniques on suspects in detention facilities, couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. It has come just days after six of the 172 languishing Guantanamo detainees were sent over to Uruguay — as nothing was proved against them in 12 years. This report, along with the undecided fate of X-camp victims, is bound to further the debate on gross human rights violations and techniques of torture that power-intoxicated men employ to consolidate their grip at the helm of affairs. Moreover, the CIA report has come out with serious charges such as misleading politicians and keeping the general public in the dark by disseminating false information. Among the few notorious methods that the classified report has summarised are: waterboarding, rectal dehydration and physical pain by holding the detainee in prolonged periods of darkness, sleep deprivation and extraordinary beating. Yet, the intelligence department says that no valuable information could be extracted from the hellhole detainees — and some of them are languishing in prisons for the last 13 years.

This is a serious moment of conscience for the Americans and the world at large. This report is bound to galvanise the call for prosecuting officials and leaders who authenticated such crimes, and intentionally undermined the due course of law for the accused. Indeed, it has been a clear policy orchestrated at the highest level, and the culprits should be made to face the music. Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth has rightly said: “Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a policy option for future presidents.”

While Obama enjoys the credit for halting torture mechanisms when he took over the White House, he has to move ahead impartially by ordering an inquiry into the report and let the accused be put in the dock. This is the time to not only outlaw such draconian measures but also to prevail over the Capitol Hill to shut down the torture camp in the backyard of America. The culture of X-camp, invading foreign lands and sending in soldiers to fight undesired wars is unbecoming of human values, and at the same time belies the great values of American Independence. It’s high time to call it a day and sail back into serenity.

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