The BBC says that 29% of 27,000 respondents from 25 countries think some amount of torture is OK when used to combat terrorism.
The percentage is 36% in the U.S., making us more amenable than average to inflicting pain on our enemies. Is this wrong? I say that it is not, given that the people we are fighting know no limits whatsoever.
Evidence of this fact can be seen every day in Iraq. The people behind the atrocities there deserve no mercy. In this regard, the permission grants to military questioners by President Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006 is justified in regards convicted terrorists.
The problem that I have with this new set of laws is not with the fact that we’re sanctioning torture of murders – that’s an eye for an eye, in my opinion – but with the diminishing standard of proof that the government is required to demonstrate.
According to CBS News: “The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus — the ability of an imprisoned person to challenge his or her confinement in court — applies only to resident aliens within the United States as well as other foreign nationals captured here and abroad.”
Even so, codification into law of a lessened standard of proof for foreign nationals creates a danger to American citizens as well. Civil liberties do not disappear overnight in this country. They are taken away one at a time, often as part of massive sets of legislation, usually as part of a patriotic mission to increase national security. The old adage, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”, certainly seems to point to the slippery slope that we’re looking down.
In my opinion, dealing with terrorists requires a certain amount of hypocrisy. The worst of them are no better than animals and should be treated as such on the field of battle and in the torture chamber. But it’s better to keep these actions in a legal gray area than to compromise the integrity of the legal system as applies to civil society.