Are we any safer ten years after 9/11? Are we even the same country? Sadly the answer to both questions is no. The image above is pretty ugly isn’t it. Well take a good hard look because this is what people around the world are thinking about us. Since 2001 our nation has become an Orwellian nightmare. We openly torture people and spy on our own citizens. In a way the terrorists have won as we now live in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia. This is not the America I grew up in. As the son of a retired Army officer I am appalled by our actions. My father and his comrades did not serve their country for it to turn into this. I take the issue of torture very seriously. I was named after Jeremiah Denton former Vietnam POW and author of When Hell was in Session.
According to former Guantanamo interrogator Jennifer S. Bryson “When the 9/11 attacks hit, America’s military interrogators already knew that rapport-based interrogation works.” She went on to say “Torture is wrong. Torture is unnecessary. Torture is counter to effective interrogation.” In the words of Nice Guy Eddie from Reservoir Dogs “If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he’ll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don’t necessarily make it fucking so! ” Torture doesn’t just hurt those we interrogate. Those who take part in such viciousness are forever changed by it. When you dance with the devil the devil doesn’t change the devil changes you.
Last night MSNBC aired Rachel Maddow interviewing former MP Brandon Neely as part of their Day of Destruction Decade of War special. Neely stated that several detainees were mistreated. He described a prisoner being beaten and left in a pool of their own blood. DOD spokesman Todd Breasseale responded to allegations of abuse with this statement “The Department of Defense does not tolerate the abuse of detainees, and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated, and appropriate disciplinary action is taken if allegations are substantiated.”
Maddow also conducted an interview with former Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis. According to Lagouranis “After 9/11 and after Afghanistan we had heard from interrogators coming back that they were crossing lines, use of stress positions, sleep deprivation, and dietary manipulation.” Tony was also interviewed in 2005 by democracynow.org. He states “in Mosul, I was using dogs and hypothermia, I was using sleep deprivation, isolation, dietary manipulation, you know, that’s all abuse, according to the army field manual, the army doctrine and certainly according to the Geneva Conventions.” To make matters worse he also says “I was believing the intelligence reports that came in with the prisoner. I believed the detainee units, but later it became clear to me that they weren’t — they were picking up just farmers, you know, like these guys were totally innocent and that’s why we weren’t getting intel. And it just made what we were doing, like, seem even more cruel.”
Not only is torture cruel and ineffective, it also besmirches our international reputation. If we want to defeat our enemies we cannot stoop to their level. We must take the moral high ground, and refrain from engaging in terror ourselves. We are better than this. Torture is not a family value.