liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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PBS: Torturing Democracy

The issue of torture — specifically torture perpetrated by Americans — happens to be one item on my "how to make me see red" list.

It's also the one item where if you support it — even a little bit, even in the non-existent "ticking time bomb scenario" that only happens on 24 but almost never in real life — I start to question whether you're even human, let alone have a soul.

Or, to put it another way, if you actually say something plumb-ignorant evil like "waterboarding is not torture" or "sometimes it's necessary to torture," I highly recommend that you just avoid commenting on this issue in my LJ. Seriously. Don't go there.

In short, torture is a non-negotiable moral issue for me.

And the fact that we as Americans not only openly acknowledge this is going on, but we openly make jokes about it is something that I find flabbergasting. The fact that some Americans are actually defending the use of torture positively makes me weep.

I've written about American-perpetrated torture in the past. I've asked people to read this thread on the StraightDope message board where one of the conservative members underwent waterboarding and declared that it was most definitely torture. I've linked to Frontline's The Torture Question, and the Small Wars journal where a counter-intelligence officer explains why torture does not work.

PBS is releasing another documentary called Torturing Democracy, which uses the documents secured through the Freedom of Information Act and other investigative journalism methods to continue to hammer against the myth that the use of torture in Iraq and in Guantanamo was the result of "a few bad apples."

Although I suspect that Torturing Democracy won't have too much by way of new information for people who've been paying attention to the issue, it might have additional information on the paper trail that apparently leads right to Georgey-Porgey the Soon-to-be-Ex-President's Oval Office door.

[My dearest wish is that sometime in the next 8 years, every single person in Bush's administration responsible for allowing torture and extraordinary rendition, or played a part in the decision to invade Iraq finds themselves in the Hague facing war crimes and crimes-against-humanity charges. Pipe dream, I know, but a girl can hope can't she?]

PBS national has apparently decided that caution is the better part of valor (read: "they're chicken"), and is holding off showing Torturing Democracy until January 21, 2009, the day after Bush is finally crowbarred out of office (preferably by an incoming Obama administration).

However, some local PBS stations have gone into full revolt and will be showing the documentary before the election (Naturally, Boston and New York City are on the list of pre-election showings), or you can watch it online at the Torturing Democracy site. You can also see video snippets from the documentary here on the official YouTube site.

Frankly, vice presidential candidate Joe Biden sums up precisely why condoning torture is against our national interests (assuming the humanitarian issue isn't enough to convince you):

"...(T)here's a reason why we sign these treaties — to protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties. So when Americans are captured, they are not tortured." (Emphasis mine.)

Video of the June 2004 Congressional hearing where this quote comes from is below. And just for that added "I don't know whether I should laugh or cry" feeling, the clip is from The Daily Show. (Note: Definitely NSFW, so view with caution.)


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