Terror of torture

A quick peek at the recent changes in America’s torture policies

| Forum Editor

President Obama has made some bold moves surrounding United States’ anti-torture policies, but it seems as though his decision to appeal to everyone has weakened his position considerably these past few days. However, we must look past presidential decisions and realize that our society accepts torture too easily, especially during times of “crisis.” At the same time, our existence relies upon the actions of the security agencies, and now we are too far down the road to completely reject certain policies.

After President Obama took office, he began making revolutionary changes that altered U.S. policy: He called for the dismantling of Guantanamo Bay detention camp and released Justice Department documents from the Bush administration that were very explicit with regard to torture policies. Furthermore, President Obama promised to “ban torture,” which made Democrats jump with joy and left Republicans changing their pants. However, immediately after the release of the documents, the left wing called for the prosecution of the people involved in writing the memo—key Bush administration figures and the CIA.

However, Obama then proceeded to flip-flop by visiting the CIA and giving a speech saying he appreciated the agency—showing that they may not come under fire for the torture memos. So in this whole process, President Obama pissed off the Republicans for releasing classified documents and pissed off the Democrats by not prosecuting the people involved with those documents. This is what I feared—promises that were made during the campaign and during inauguration are not going to be held up. Granted, it is extremely difficult to reverse strong policies implemented by the previous administration, but by promising to ban torture and then not fulfilling it, Obama seems to have waterboarded himself.

Now, it is understandable that an incoming Democratic president would want to reverse policies set in place; however, it was ridiculous to say that torture would be banned completely. Recent Senate reports have shown that Condolleezza Rice and other high-ranking Bush administration officials approved the CIA’s use of waterboarding as early as 2002. As citizens of a free nation, we must understand that the actions of the CIA and other security agencies have kept us free for this long; however, using questionable procedures may give the enemy more leverage against us. Torture is a very touchy subject, and it would be a better world when no such techniques are needed.

In this day and age, a ban on torture seems elegant and high-minded, but there are several groups in the world that wish to bring America down regardless of the ban on torture. They hate the very existence of our nation and will not stop until we are wiped out. Against such hatred, what can we do? Like choosing between a rock and a hard place, I say we let our security agencies continue doing their job. The only thing we can do is hope that informed politicians and officials in this new administration make the right choices and protect our rights and our existence.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.