Americans with no experience deceive themselves about torture. A friend told me that when the US tortured people it was somehow more humane.
But talk to torture victims at the annual gathering of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) and they tell you that torture, whatever its guise, is always immoral.
In the early 1980s, Miguel was held prisoner for four years by the Marcos regime in the Philippines. “Torture is always wrong,” he says. “It uses terrorism to try to destroy terrorism. The torturer becomes the terrorist. You think you establish order by breaking the law.” [...]
Perpetrators of torture share a common rationale: national security. “They tell you torture keeps your families safe and secure,” says Miguel.
What about the Israeli argument – that torture can thwart a suicide bomber, or the American version: “What if Islamic terrorists planted a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb in New York City?”
I put that question to torture survivors. One asked, “Why torture anyone? Wouldn’t you be better off finding an imam ... to sit with the prisoner and let him persuade a suspect it’s morally wrong to take innocent lives?”
Of the dozen survivors I interviewed, people from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, each said torture doesn’t work. In 2008, Mary from Uganda was beaten, gang raped, and terrorized in prison. Her crime? Being a member of the opposition party. “When they torture you, two things happen,” she says. “First they make you crazy. Next, you believe you’re going to die, so there’s no point in confessing.”
All the hypothetical situations in the world can't compare with the voices of people tortured by unjust regimes, who know what they are talking about. From their perspective, torture is always wrong, and torture doesn't work. They're in a position to know what they're talking about.