They have announced it, but because Bush has vetoed the law that was passed in the U.S. Congress, prohibiting the “simulated” asphyxiation (throwing water on the head of the detainee in order to cause a sensation of drowning) and other “tough interrogations” performed on suspects of terrorism, it is terrible news. The simulated asphyxiation is considered by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations of human rights as a torture without palliation. A torture used by the CIA.
The Bush advisors recommended to veto the law since it began debate in Congress, because they considered it “incompatible” with the obtaining of information in the anti-terrorism fight. Bush, who is not known for a deep intellect, has had the nerve to say that the practice of the torture has helped save lives. And has dared to declare that simulated asphyxiation is not torture.
“The veto of president Bush will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency,” declared Senator Edward Kennedy, and he further declared that “the use of terror is not only illegal but rather its results are very unreliable and damage lawful forces for obtaining information, because it leads those interrogated to saying what the torturer wants to hear.”
The judgment of Senator Kennedy coincides with that of an investigator in the study of torture and its history, Darius Rejali, professor of the Reed faculty (Portland), who has published Torture and Democracy in Princeton University Press, where he dives into the recent history of torture. Rejali declares that “if they want a false confession or that the victim will be submissive, torture is useful, but if they want the truth, torture is the most amateurish method that exists.” Darius Rejali has dismantled a myth of the use of torture: that victims speak. In order to demonstrate its hypocrisy he provides an enlightening historic fact, fruit of his rigorous investigation: between the years 1500 and 1750, the French legally tortured 785 people, but only 23 spoke. More recent studies and investigations support the inefficiency of torture.
But the worst is that torture presumes a repugnant backwards step in the very slow walk of the humanization of our world, in the definitive conquest of “civility.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which protects us against torture, among other things, signed and ratified by almost all the states of the world, has signified a fundamental milestone in this advance of “civility.” Bush’s veto of a law that prohibits torture is to go backwards, a step toward cruelty of incalculable consequences. It is the open and legal consolidation of one of the most perverse principles, the one that expects the ends to justify the means. Perverse principle, because it denies the collective ethic that human beings have given us with advances for five millennia; because it denies the ethic principles that assure the dignity of all, and hinders our disappearance.
It is not ok to think that this veto is unimportant because, after all, those that suffer from torture are few and they are the evil ones. This is not ok because these present years of supposed fight against terrorism have demonstrated actively and passively that many innocent people have been detained, tortured and incarcerated as mere suspects, for their ethnic image or physical aspects. And they have demonstrated that, in spite of all the rotten mistakes, of all the violation of human rights committed, the world has not won in the fight for security, but rather the contrary.
I do not know why a poem came to mind attributed to the playwright Bertol Brech, in reality it is written by Martin Niemüller, a valiant German protestant pastor that faced Nazi Germany: When the Nazis captured socialists, /I did not say anything, /but I wasn’t socialist. /When they detained unionists, /I did not say anything, /because I was not a unionist. /When they carried off the Jews, /neither did I protest, /because I was not a Jew. /And when they came for me, /nobody remained /which I could protest.