Thursday, May 14, 2009
One of the main excuses used to justify torture is that the people being tortured were bloodthirsty terrorists, who would do far worse to us if we didn't stop them.
Is that true?
Judge for yourself:
- The number two man at the State Department under Colin Powell, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, says that many of those being held at Guantanamo Bay were innocent, and that top Bush administration officials knew that they were innocent. Moreover, he said:
"This philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance (this general philosophy, in an even cruder form, prevailed in Iraq as well, helping to produce the nightmare at Abu Ghraib). All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals--in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.(see this and this). Indeed, Wilkerson signed a declaration under penalty of perjury stating that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld covered up the fact that hundreds of innocent men were sent to Guantanamo because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.
Thus, as many people as possible had to be kept in detention for as long as possible to allow this philosophy of intelligence gathering to work. The detainees' innocence was inconsequential. After all, they were ignorant peasants for the most part and mostly Muslim to boot."
- Many others also state that those tortured were mainly innocent farmers, villagers, or those against whom neighbors held a grudge. Indeed, people received a nice cash reward from the U.S. government for turning people in as "suspected terrorists" (and see this movie)
- The commander of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Janis Karpinski, estimates that 90% of detainees in the prison were innocent
Postscript: One commentator wrote: