Ban Torture

RECEIVED Fri., Dec. 16, 2005

Dear Editor:
    I encourage readers to support the McCain revision banning torture in all circumstances because:
    1) Information gained from torture is unreliable. A person subjected to torture will admit to anything. Consider the Soviet gulags, where innocent people were tortured then executed for falsely confessed crimes.
    2) Torture is simply un-American. America stands for many things: life, liberty, freedom. However, America's attempts to justify torture by bending well-established laws, creating political "no-man's land" for enemy combatants, and sending prisoners to be tortured in secret prisons by third-party countries (i.e., Poland), which undermines claims that we are fighting for moral high ground. How can we fight for freedom and democracy while actively justifying the use of torture?
    3) America's justification of torture will result in the widespread torture of Americans. Undermining Geneva Convention agreements that ban torture effectively nullifies these agreements. When someone is tortured, these treaties appear outdated. Soon they will no longer protect anyone. If it's OK for America to torture individuals then what prevents other governments, countries, or organizations from torturing Americans?
    4) Sen. John McCain has a profound understanding of the need for banning torture. Sen. John McCain – tortured in Vietcong camps – understands the utter futility of torture from a personal and visceral perspective:
    "Every one of us – every single one of us – knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies, that we were better than them, that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or approving such mistreatment of them. That faith was indispensable not only to our survival, but to our attempts to return home with honor. For without our honor, our homecoming would have had little value to us" – John McCain ("Torture's Terrible Toll," Newsweek, Nov. 21, 2005).
Tony Velasco
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