Neither Adolph Hitler nor Joseph Stalin made mention of such a practice. Augusto Pinochet as well as General Jorge Rafael Videla were denied formulating reasons about the patriotic necessity of producing confessions from subjects by means of “illegal methods”. But finally, the governor of a great democracy had the courage to break the taboo and demonstrate that torture has been converted into an indispensable tool for the defense of western Christian civilization’s valor. On March 8, 2008, George W. Bush became the first modern chief of state, since memory can recall, that publicly expressed his defense of torture. This day, Bush announced his veto of a legal project that had impeded the CIA’s use of what is euphemistically called “hard methods of interrogation” such as water-boarding.

Bush said in his weekly radio address to the nation that “this is not the moment for Congress to abandon practices that rely on a good proven record of maintaining security for the United States”. Eliminating methods that others consider torture (especially those whom suffer it) annuls “one of the most valuable tools in the struggle against terrorism” explained Bush.

With this announcement, Bush rendered a grand homage to the resistant spirit of the human being. While spending in the last seven years almost a trillion dollars on all types of contraptions for combating the unreachable ideal of terrorism (which is a method of struggle, not a philosophy nor a political doctrine), the American President has had to admit that not even airplanes, nor submarines, nor teleguided missiles, nor electronic espionage can replace a good session of torture. Humanity has reached the stratosphere, and medicine has the capacity to offer more life to a robot than to a human being, but when they try to break the resistant spirit of a human being, nothing is superior to a good pair of pliers, an electric prod, or a bucket of excrement in which such a patriot is invited to deposit their head and their hopes.

Jennifer Daskal, anti-terrorism advisor of the Defense of Human Rights Group of Human Rights Watch said that Bush “will go down in history as the president of torture” by challenging Congress and permitting the CIA to use interrogation techniques that “any reasonable person would qualify as torture”.

A Proven Method

In the United States, the enemies of torture use an approach that inadvertently serves Bush’s purposes. Besides indicating that torture is illegal, well it is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, one of whose signers is the United States, such oppose the illegal proceedings arguing that it does not produce the desired benefits. We should not forget that this is an eminently pragmatic society and all is defined in agreement with its useful value. The retired General Harry Soyster, ex director of the Intelligence Defense Agency, declared to the Washington Post that it does little: “torture is counterproductive. It extracts bad intelligence information. It ruins the subject who becomes useless in further investigations”. And the Admiral Mark Buzby, commander of the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba declared to the newspaper “We obtain more reliable information by simple seated discourse, maintaining a conversation, and treating the detainees as human beings of a serious manner.

Meanwhile, Newsweek magazine reported in the beginning of March that the Canadian governor denied usage of Abu Zubaydah’s testimony, presumed director of al-Qaida, in the continuing cause against two presumed terrorists. The rejection of Zubaydah’s testimony is that is was obtained by CIA interrogators after subjecting him to waterboarding.

A Canadian spokesperson said to Newsweek that the Canadian Intelligence Director considered torture “morally repugnant and not very reliable”.

Therefore, the enemies of torture are victims of a fallacy. Torture is not necessary, they advise, because torture turns out to be ineffective. And what happens if torture proves to be effective? Is it then acceptable? Certainly Bush could respond to these defenders of lost causes that torture does work. If it were so unreliable, why does this method go back to the beginning of history and was used among other reputable institutions like the Holy Inquisition, the Gestapo, the KGB in the Soviet Union, National Security, Digepol, and the Disip in Venezuela, and by all the defenders of Latin American patriotism almost without exception?

He Who Talks Excessively Dies

In the last months the method of interrogation known as waterboarding has become the center of an interesting debate. If a person covers his head with a cloth and throws himself into the water so that the cloth hits his face and impedes breathing, isn’t it torture? Not even the American press is motivated to explain of what this method really consists. Some speak of simulated drowning, or simulated breathlessness. But, as David Bromwich explained in his excellent article, “Euphemism and American Violence” (The New York Review of Books, April 3, 2008), waterboarding consists of really drowning the victim, without hiding anything. What happens is that the drowning “is interrupted” on some occasions, and the victim is saved from an asphyxiating death. On other occasions, waterboarding tends to end with the death of the interrogated.

Just as the Secretary of Justice, Michael Mukasey, and the National Intelligence Director, Mike McConnell, admitted at the beginning of the year before Congressional committees that if waterboarding were applied to them, it would be torture. And what if it is applied to others, what happens?

According to Bromwich, the American Secretary of Justice cannot admit that waterboarding is torture by a simple explanation. Yes Mukasey “admits that these acts satisfy the definition of torture, those that realize the interrogations and those that order them, amongst them and the president, they can be accused of war crimes”.

When Bush made his champion affirmation that he wasn’t thinking of eliminating the interrogation methods of the CIA, “one of the most valuable tools in the struggle against terrorism”, he did a great favor for humanity. Now, whatever citizen of whatever country in the world can legitimately present in whatever justice tribunal- we recommend especially those of Germany, Belgium, or Spain, where they have already tried these types of cases- a solicitation to charge Bush for suspected war crimes.

From the 8th of March, 2008, the same Bush, without anybody having asked it, publicly put himself outside the law.