Torture never an option
In April 24, the Daily Herald published an Associated Press story, "Ex-spy: Destroying CIA tapes purged 'ugly visuals.'" With the publication of Jose Rodriguez's new book, "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives," I am once again confronted with the ethical question of condoning the use of torture as a justifiable means of enhanced interrogation.
As a person of faith, I completely oppose torture — in any form and for any reason. It is a moral abomination that runs contrary to the teachings of all religions as it is an egregious violation of the dignity and worth of every person. Purposely inflicting psychological and physical pain as a way of gathering information is indefensible.
I agree with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture that torture is a moral issue and that it violates a person's basic dignity. It degrades everyone involved — policymakers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished ideals, and any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
With the publication of his book, Rodriguez is using the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death to condone the use of torture in claiming that torture led the U.S. to him. However, this claim has been disputed by former CIA and FBI agents alike.
Former FBI Agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Abu Zubaydah, said, "Under traditional interrogation methods (not torture), he provided us with important actionable intelligence."
In his testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Soufan said, "From my experience — and I speak as someone who has personally interrogated many terrorists and elicited important actionable intelligence — I strongly believe that it is a mistake to use what has become known as 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' a position shared by many professional operatives, including the CIA officers who were present at the initial phases of the Abu Zubaydah interrogation. These techniques, from an operative perspective, are ineffective, slow and unreliable, and as a result, harmful to our efforts to defeat al-Qaida."
Former CIA agent Glenn Carle, whose responsibilities included assessing the validity of intelligence, obtained through "enhanced interrogation techniques" says that he found the CIA could trust no information obtained from enhanced interrogation techniques. Carle said that information obtained through these methods was "recalled" or repudiated, for unreliability. He added the same information could have been obtained through the use of classic, legal interrogation procedures.
Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. America was founded on a set of moral ideals that we aspired to lead the rest of the world. The use of torture flies in the face of these ideals, and it belittles our nation's integrity.
As a member of the Clerics of St. Viator, a Catholic religious congregation of brothers and priests, I am committed to the education of young people. Much of that education involves modeling respect and valuing the dignity of each person. I am at a loss for words when a student asks why our government engages in acts of torture.
If we as a nation condone the use of torture, of inflicting extreme pain and suffering on another human being for the purpose of obtaining information, what does that say to our youth? That the violation of another person is acceptable, when the end justifies the means?
I think not. There are no circumstances that justify the use of torture. Not now. Not ever.
• Br. Gosch is assistant provincial of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians), Province of Chicago, an international Catholic religious congregation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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