During Saturday’s Republican presidential debate, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain supported waterboarding suspected terrorists. Cain even said that he doesn’t “consider” waterboarding to be torture. Sorry, Herman. I can “consider” he sky to be red. That doesn’t make it so.
Americans debated the value of torture for a decade. Since our “war on terror” began after September 11 2001, we’ve debated torture’s definition, whether Americans have tortured prisoners, whether it’s justified, and whether we should prosecute the people who authorized and committed it. The debate focused primarily on waterboarding.
According to the Washington Post, former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and others routinely ordered American personnel to waterboard suspected terrorist prisoners. President Barack Obama stopped the practice on his third day in office in 2009.
The U.S. Constitution’s Article VI states that the Constitution and all treaties made under it are the supreme law of the nation. In 1990, the U.S. Senate ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. That treaty defines and forbids torture. It requires every nation to prevent torture and to investigate and prosecute all allegations of torture in any territory under its command, promptly and thoroughly. There are no exceptions. War, public emergency, value of the information received, and the orders of superior officers do not justify torture.
The Constitution says that the treaty is our law. The treaty forbids torture and requires us to prosecute. Therefore, even if it produces useable information, torture is illegal, no matter how many people say otherwise. The U.S. government has no excuse and no choice. Waterboarding has been classified as torture since the Spanish Inquisition more than 500 years ago.
Justice is often inconvenient, costly, time-consuming, and messy. It is always necessary. Either we enforce the law or we don’t. Even John McCain said, “It’s not about what kind of people they are. It’s about what kind of people we are.” Torture is a crime. The people who order, commit, and excuse it are criminals.
Why is it that those who claim to love the Constitution eversomuch can’t be bothered to READ IT?
For More Information:
Cain, Bachmann Say They Would Support Waterboarding
The Bush Administration Made Waterboarding Almost Routine
Executive Order 13491: Ensuring Lawful Interrogations
United States Constitution
United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Amnesty International: Terror and Torture