Friday, March 02, 2007

Torture: When are people going to wake up?

We have gone around and around over the issue of torture and the abuse of detainees during the past few years. Whether or not torture is useful as an interrogation tool is debatable. What is not debatable is that the practice is demeaning to us as a people and turns allies and potential allies against us. What is particularly distressing is that it seems to no longer concern the public. Two American allies – Germany and Italy – have issued warrants for American agents involved in kidnapping and torture and the story is barely news.

The issues surrounding the use of torture against those held in American captivity are too important to put on the back burner. Too much is at stake.

Andrew Sullivan cites an article in the Chicago Reader about Tony Lagouranis. Lagouranis joined the Army and became an interrogator of detainees in Iraq. His story is one of disillusionment:

… “We had a lot of prisoners to deal with . . . so most of the prisoners didn’t get the full treatment for as long as the warrant officer would have liked. But there were two brothers in particular that we were going on pretty hard. . . . We had some significant evidence on these guys which was so rare—we almost never had evidence on anybody. . . . We went on them hard for almost a month, I think, and these guys were just completely broken down, physically, mentally, by the end of it. One guy walked like a 90-year-old man when he was done. He was an ex-army guy, he was a real healthy young man when he came in, and by the end he was a mess. Psychologically they couldn’t focus on things. Their emotions would change all the time. They were obviously showing signs of deterioration.”


“It was all bullshit. And that’s for an entire year of interrogating thousands of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. They got nothing out of that place. That’s not just my assessment—you can talk to anybody I worked with over there. The main reason for that is because 90 or 95 percent of the people we got had nothing to do with the insurgency.”

You can read the entire article here. The question Sullivan poses: When are people going to wake up?

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