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Letter to the Editor

May 29, 2009

Torture is not the answer



To the editor:

The torture debate is not a dangerous path; torture itself is a dangerous path. We can't undo what we did, but we have to acknowledge it as a misstep - a misstep onto a slippery slope that leads only to fascism. Debating that misstep and chastising the ones responsible for it will hopefully ensure that the U.S. will never torture its enemies again. And that surely will increase the stature of the U.S. in the eyes of the world, not reduce it.

Many conservatives - led by Fox News - have this childish idea that calling torture by a more pleasant name, like "enhanced interrogation," would make it less evil. You know, al-Qaeda could claim that what it did on 9/11 wasn't really murder. No, it was merely the "enhanced administration of death" and thus not so bad after all. I don't think so. What al-Qaeda did was murder and what we did was torture; let's just call things by what they really are.

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And I really hope the administration will call Cheney's bluff and release all torture-related documents for America to see how fruitless the CIA's efforts were.

You see, torture was the established crime investigation technique throughout the medieval ages. Eventually law enforcement abandoned the technique because it realized that statements given under torture are essentially worthless. A torture victim will always end up saying what the interrogator wants to hear - regardless of truth, regardless of fact, regardless of relevance.

I am certain the statements the CIA obtained torturing al-Qaeda suspects were no exception. Sadly, CIA interrogators will never understand that, because the statements they obtained all supported their pre-conceived suspicions and thus appeared to be very valuable. That's self-deception at its worst.

I understand that we may die at the hand of a terrorist some day. That does not scare me, nor should it scare anybody. Fear of death should not let us lose our way, the way of honor, the way of moral strength, the way of justice, and the way of treating even our enemies humanely.

Taking shortcuts has never paid off, and if the CIA used torture as the "expedient" way of obtaining valuable information, then that alone should have told us that the approach was probably no good.

Hans K. Buhrer
Smithsburg

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