Co-opting the word “torture” to include methods far less offensive than the majority of interrogation techniques I underwent in military SERE training isn’t a victory for moralists and humanitarians in any form; rather, it’s an Orwellian perversion of a word that once had meaning by those who have spent the last eight years on constant lookout for some greviance to hold against a president whose mere existence they resented.
The sad fact is, by co-opting the word “torture” and using it to describe activities going on at Gitmo, Bagram, and elsewhere, these faux-humanitarians have left us with no word to use to describe those activities which used to be classified as torture, like beheading captives on video, hanging people from meat hooks, drilling out eyeballs, using electric current to cause severe pain and physical damage, and cutting off limbs.
Damn co-opters! First you co-opt the word “marriage” and now the word “torture!” By the way, is “beheading captives on video” really considered torture? I thought that was murder…
It’s interesting that Jeff thinks the only forms of torture that ought to be called that are the sort that essentially just almost instantly kill the victims. Been watching too many Saw movies there Jeff?
What Emmanuel basically said amounts to a boasting contest of “my torture was worse than your torture.” In the sentence he claims he went through the real “military interrogation techniques” at SERE, and implies that these terrorists are whiners for not being able to take it like a man. Emmanuel’s statement is analogous to a fraternity brother telling pledges that they have no idea what hazing is, because it was a lot worse back when he was a frosh.
SERE creates an overwhelming sense of fear. It wasn’t designed only to help men withstand interrogations. It was designed to help them withstand torture. The only difference is that its participants know it is temporary. Want to know how some other SERE survivors feel about the program? Profligate drinker, smoker, and atheist Christopher Hitchens underwent waterboarding for about five seconds and called it torture. There’s even a video. Recently another “graduate” of SERE training called for the program to be shut down. Emmanuel’s attitude illustrates why the author thinks this: if you survive torture, you’re less likely to think it was “that bad.”
All of this is pointless, though, since the Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. I believe “torture” falls into that category, since it is inherently a punishment for refusing to give information. Perhaps the torture occurred outside the United States, but this should still be a guiding principle. Though Emmanuel probably thinks that this prohibition only applies to Brazen Bulls and projectio in profluentem, since the pillory doesn’t leave marks.
Emmanuel’s position is the truly Orwellian one as it seeks to parse torture out to allow it to be considered legal and even moral. What happened on America’s watch wasn’t just “torture,” it was torture.
-Michael E. van Landingham