Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bradley Manning e a "slippery slope"

Pvt Manning proves 'slippery slope', por

Treatment of the US soldier shows there is a fine line between torture of enemy combatants and American citizens.(...)

Torture advocates opined that the use of non-maiming techniques (i.e., "torture lite") is a lesser evil, and might be legitimately employed by American interrogators to break a recalcitrant terrorist suspected of possessing valuable intelligence (e.g. the whereabouts of that ticking bomb) in order to keep Americans safe. In those years, torture advocates never envisioned the use of such tactics on a US soldier, for if they had, their claims would not have gotten such traction in the mainstream media (or been fetishised in the Jack Bauer character of the popular television program 24).

Domestic torture

Yet, today here we are, subjecting an American soldier to some of the techniques that were cleared for use by the CIA on Abu Zubaydah in 2002. The panoply of tactics applied to Abu Zubaydah includes many that Manning has been spared, such as waterboarding and the confinement box.

This development was hardly unforeseeable. Opponents of torture had staked their positions in the early debate with warnings not only that torture is illegal and ineffective, but also with historic evidence that states which authorise the torture of enemies embark down a slippery slope.

In the Bush administration's inner circle, officials who opposed the authorisation and use of interrogational abuse as illegal and counterproductive to national security were excluded from decision-making. Interrogation policy was guided and gassed by the presumptions that violence and degradation would work to elicit true information, a claim that in the American case has been proven patently false - but still gets trumpeted as true by those who resist being encumbered by facts and evidence.

Presumptions of efficacy and rightlessness had the predictable effect of expanding the universe of those deemed to be torturable in the quest for actionable intelligence. Over the last decade, thousands of foreign prisoners taken into US custody in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq were subjected to systematic and wanton abuses, the vast majority of whom were either entirely innocent (arrested by mistake, rounded up in sweeps through villages or sold for bounty) or who had no meaningful intelligence.

This universe continues to expand because there has been no serious and sustained effort to confront the abject failures and high costs of the torture policy. Rather, the false presumptions of efficacy and rightlessness continue to be persuasive to those who make or endorse US interrogation policy.

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