Saturday, February 9, 2013

Torture Against Terror Means Trouble

“Recent history repeatedly shows that societies cannot fully move on until the issue of accountability for torture and cruel treatment is squarely faced.” And thus, it is the responsibility of the United States to confront and resolve this issue. Four years ago, President Obama signed an order to ban the use of torture in counterterrorism measures. In the years following September 11, 2001, this issue has become particularly relevant. The War on Terror that resulted from this tragic event in history is continuously raging. Those involved face cruelty and immorality every day. Pressure builds to yield results through interrogation. And though it is necessary to fight terrorism and prevent its destructive habits, I believe use of brutal force and inhuman treatment maintains no place in this fight.

It is argued that use of torture and cruel treatment elicits desired results when dealing with terrorists. However, “torture is a crime under U.S. law,” regardless of who is being tortured. And it is against the law for a reason. Torture is an inhuman act committed by those who wish for quick results, regardless of the impact. They do not recognize how large that impact is; it leaves a bloody trail that leads to shame and guilt felt by an entire country.

In my opinion, the collective United States conscience cannot be cleared until allegations and grievances regarding torture methods have been heard and investigated. There are many government-recognized officials who are not held accountable for their torture methods. The U.S. has denounced such tactics, in signing the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but turns a blind eye to its own use of these tactics. And, “tragically, U.S. global human rights leadership cannot and will not be taken seriously until its own abusers are held to account.

If they are not held accountable, those who have committed heinous acts of torture (even for benefit of counterterrorism) will remain unacknowledged and unpunished. It is particularly frightening to know those capable of heinous acts of cruelty are allowed to walk free. And those who have gotten away with committing torture may believe it legally within their rights to continue administering inhumane treatment. This is a threat to national and international security. The United States is a country that prides itself on righteousness, on protecting humans and human rights, and on adhering to the highest standard possible. And when transgressions occur that violate this pride, ignorance will not yield a solution. Those who have committed a crime must be recognized under the law and handled accordingly.

This can be achieved by taking strong executive steps toward submitting tighter laws, and more significantly, enforcing such laws. President Obama, continuing in his second term, must begin taking steps in that direction. “His leadership is now again necessary to finally close the book on torture once and for all.” Counterterrorism is an effort that can and will continue without sacrificing the general law of the United States.

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