Posted by: Kevin | October 11, 2006

On Torture: Part 2

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 A week ago I posted a historical look at interrogation in relation to the torture debate. My focus was on the most successful strategies of interrogation and how they differed radically from the recent proposals by the Bush Administration.

Well today I came across this.  The story of Jose Padilla, as told by Glenn Greenwald on his site, Unclaimed Territory.  Read this story, it is a chilling reminder of the power this government wants at its disposal.  I cant tell you whether or not Jose Padilla is innocent or guilty of any crime.  But neither can the government.  Despite that, this US citizen was held without trial, without even being charge, for more than three and a half years.

Now the government can’t even charge him with anything serious.  Why, you ask.  Because, big surprise, the testimony which justified rounding him up in the first place was acquired through torture

This is the definition of a lose-lose.  If Mr. Padilla is innocent, he has had three years of his life taken away from him, not to mention and damage done to his physical and mental health.  If Mr. Padilla is guilty (and the fact that 2 high level Al Qaeda guys knew who he was is suggestive), then the government has wasted an opportunity.  More subtle intelligence gathering could have proven his guilt beyond a doubt and exposed co-conspirators.  Instead he’s a martyr and an object lesson to other terrorists.  Better to die than be captured. 

One last point.  One commenter on Unclaimed Territory brought up a disturbing point.  This is like the game “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon”.  Are you sure you don’t know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who is pretty shady and associated with the wrong kind of people.  If someone else’s testimony, induced by torture, is considered grounds a 3 year incarceration.  How many degrees of separation do you need between yourself and sketchy person in order to be safe?

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