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Friday, 04 December, 2020

Why Not Torture?

Date: 15 August, 2002

By: Chief

Imagen the cover of the July 2002 edition of The American Legion magazine is a picture of a person being suspended by his wrists. The caption, "Why not Torture," is also the title of the feature article.

Now the article in the magazine was not written by some utter lunatic. Not at all. Indeed, the article was written by none other than Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. Without doubt one of the most respected academics in the field of law this country has produced.

Professor Dershowitz makes a compelling case for the use of non-lethal torture on suspects by law enforcement with a special "torture warrant" in order to prevent another World Trade Center style of attack.

The professor is wrong.

Why not torture? I'll tell you why.

First there are those minor inconveniences contained within the Constitution such as the:

To be sure, cases such as the landmark Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona would be tossed out the window.

Nor do we desire to forget the "Offences against the Law of Nations" clause which is contained in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Torture is such an offence.

What about 'innocent until proven guilty by a court of law'? I suppose that could be changed to 'innocent until you prove yourself guilty by means of thumb screws'.

Secondly — and here is a gotcha — when has government, any government, lived within the rules it created? The answer is never. Simply put, government and its agents can not be trusted. Torture a suspected terrorist today. Tomorrow it could be torture a person because they are suspected of being a gang member (Boy Scouts perhaps). Give government an inch and they will be sure to take a mile and then some. I'll say it again, government and its agents can not be trusted. Period.

Third, what if agents of the government, after arresting a suspect and obtaining a torture warrant signed by judge, torture the wrong person? What if that person dies? Who do we hold responsible and accountable? As it currently stands, law enforcement personnel have certain types of immunity against criminal prosecution and civil liability. I don't believe it would be a stretch to assume that law enforcement personnel would also receive immunity if they tortured the wrong person and were sued, let alone arrested for torturing the wrong person (what would that crime be called? Unnecessary roughness?).

Fourth, because the criminals who committed the World Trade Center attacks were of Arab decent, are law enforcement personnel going to setup a torture profile database? Those persons of Arab, Middle Eastern or 'they are dark skinned with big noses and speak and dress funny' descent stand a whole lot better chance of seeing what thumb screws can do up close and personal than a person who is a white Anglo-Saxon protestant.

Fifth, it is a well known, well documented fact that law enforcement personnel commit perjury on warrant affidavits and in testimony before a magistrate in order to secure a warrant. Why Professor Dershowitz himself gave testimony about this before Congress — the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee December 1, 1998. Professor Dershowitz stated:

"I believe that no felony is committed more frequently in this country than the genre of perjury and false statements. Perjury during civil depositions and trials is so endemic that a respected appellate judge once observed that 'experienced lawyers say that, in large cities, scarcely a trial occurs in which some witness does not lie'. He quoted a wag to the effect that cases often are decided 'according to the preponderance of perjury'.

"Police perjury in criminal cases - particularly in the context of searches and other exclusionary rule issues - is so pervasive that the former police chief of San Jose and Kansas City has estimated that 'hundreds of thousands of law-enforcement officers commit felony perjury every year testifying about drug arrests' alone."

Yet the good professor seems more than willing to provide police, the purveyors of perjury, with the power to inflict "excruciating pain without causing any lasting damage." I think the professor should review the testimony he provided to congress, unless, that is, he committed perjury.

Sixth, the way I read the article the singular purpose of torturing a suspect is to obtain information before a crime has been committed. The short course on that is police would have the power to torture a person for doing nothing.

If you inflict pain on someone and keep inflicting it, sooner or later that person will tell you anything and everything you ever wanted to know, unless, of course, they die first. Even if it is an outright lie. Simply to end, even temporarily, the pain.

In other words, an innocent person or persons — bet you can't torture just one — will be tortured in the hopes that some information will be gleaned from him, her or them to prevent a future crime, whether real or perceived, from taking place. Probable cause based upon the tainted word of an informant whose whole desire is to avoid a close encounter of a personal kind with a fully stocked dungeon? What utter rubbish.

Seventh, a suspect is merely that. Someone that someone else thinks may do something they consider to be suspicious. What if I were to utter "they ought to blast the IRS to kingdom come" or something similar? Does that statement mean I'm a prime candidate for a date with the rack? What will we be allowed to say? To write? To think?

The worst part of this whole ugly article is that people, We the People, seem to think torture is a great idea. Quoting Professor Dershowitz:

"In speaking to numerous audiences since Sept. 11 - audiences reflecting the entire breadth of the political and ideological spectrum - I have asked for a show of hands as to how many would favor the use of non-lethal torture in an actual ticking-bomb case. The vast majority of audience members responded in the affirmative."

And if the "actual ticking-bomb" was a hoax? Or police tortured the wrong person or people? I truly hope that if worst comes to worst and some statute is created authorizing the use of torture, the morons in the audience at Dershowitz's speeches who raised their hands are the first ones to feel the pain of state sponsored torture. Serve 'em right.

Eighth, torture, by any other name, is terrorism. By condoning such actions in the name of public safety We the People are supporting, aiding and abetting state sponsored terrorism. As such, we are no better than the criminals who hijacked and flew aircraft into the World Trade Center buildings September 11, 2001.

Lastly, when have penalties of any sort prevented someone or some group from committing a heinous crime? Has the death penalty prevented murder? Has the three-strikes law prevented repeat criminals from committing crime? Have long prison terms for drug smuggling stemmed the flow of illegal drugs into this country? No. No and no again. So what in the world makes one think that torturing an innocent person will prevent another World Trade Center attack? Lunacy.

Torture belongs right where it is — in the history books. Oh, and lest I forget, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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