“Maybe there is a beast. Maybe it’s only us.”
~ William Golding (1911-1993), “Lord of the Flies”
Hidden within some folks are the souls of saints. Hidden within others are the souls of beasts. Torture unleashes the beasts.
Nothing is more destructive of human decency, nothing is less fruitful in seeking truth, nothing is more totalitarian and nothing so undermines the government’s own cases as its use of torture.
Yet, torture is universally condoned by the government.
Last week, at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, torture came home to roost when the government suffered serious setbacks in two cases.
In one, a military judge suppressed the confessions of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri – the alleged mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors – because he found that the confessions were obtained under torture. In the other, government lawyers reluctantly agreed to enter into a plea agreement with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – whom the government says planned the 3,000 murders of 9/11 – in order to avoid defending the tortures that the CIA inflicted upon him.
In the former, the government is unlikely to appeal and is now stuck with the most adverse ruling it has received in 21 years at Gitmo. In the latter, President Joe Biden has apparently authorized Mohammed’s plea deal and the government is now trying to explain it to surviving family members.
In both cases, the evidence of guilt discoverable without torture was substantial. Yet, the sickening lust for government-inflicted pain fomented by the morally challenged and ethically obtuse President George W. Bush materially weakened the government’s cases. The government effectively tortured its own prosecutions.
Here is the backstory….