Why Are So Many Americans So Eager To Torture People?

September 20, 2006 at 11:41 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Torture | 5 Comments

I am really curious about this. I don’t get it. It is evil. Why are so many Americans eager to torture people? Why do so many Americans speak of people in the Islamic world with terms such as “savage beasts,” “cockroaches,” and “animals?” What has happened to America’s sense of decency?

Evan Thomas of Newsweek writes a web exclusive called Does Torture Really Work? I quote from his article:

It’s probably not too farfetched to say that what most Americans know about torture comes from watching the TV show “24.” (There is even a Web site called The Jack Bauer Torture Report.) Jack and his comrades and enemies have at various moments on the Fox television program used electrical wires, heart defibrillators, old-fashioned bone breaking and chemical injections to wrest information from their captives. In one episode, Agent Bauer forced a terrorist to watch streaming video—staged—of his child’s execution. The terrorist talked.

In recent interviews with NEWSWEEK reporters, U.S. intelligence officers say they have little—if any—evidence that useful intelligence has been obtained using techniques generally understood to be torture. It is clear, for instance, that Al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. His interrogators even threatened, à la Jack Bauer, to go after his family. (KSM reportedly shrugged off the threat to his family—he would meet them in heaven, he said.) KSM did reveal some names and plots. But they haven’t panned out as all that threatening: one such plot was a plan by an Al Qaeda operative to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge—with a blow torch. Intelligence officials could never be sure if KSM was holding back on more serious threats, or just didn’t know of any.


The Bush administration has tried another approach to end-run critics: farming out torture. For years, American intelligence handed over prisoners to be interrogated by other security services less squeamish about squeezing information out of suspects. These so-called renditions picked up after 9/11. The very first high-ranking Al Qaeda operative captured—Abu Faraj al-Libbi-was first interrogated by the FBI. But when the FBI wanted to use its normal, go-slow methods, the prisoner was turned over to the CIA—who promptly turned him over to the Egyptians. (NEWSWEEK has reported that as al-Libbi was led to a plane routed for Egypt, a CIA operative whispered in his ear that he planned to “f— your mother”.) Under the no-doubt rough care of the Egyptians, al-Libbi talked of plots and agents. The information was used to make the case for war against Iraq. As recounted in “Hubris,” a new book by NEWSWEEK’s Michael Isikoff and David Corn, there was only one problem: al-Libbi later recanted, saying that he had lied to stop the torture.

So the intelligence supposedly garnered from torture is questionable at best, and a pure lie at worst. Therefore we can’t torture with the intent of getting actionable intelligence, because it is untrustworthy. There are only two other reasons for torture: vengance and lust. We take out our anger against those who we fear and who we think want to harm us. This will include torture. After all, if he, the enemy, is trying to kill you, why not torture him, right? The only problem is that torture happens AFTER one surrenders to your custody. Therefore the violence against him is not necessary, and simply vengeful and evil.

The second reason is the more troubling one. Lustful. As I’ve been thinking more and more about this unfortunate topic, I can’t help but compare torture to rape. I mean, what is torture for but the forcible extraction of something the victim does not will to give to you. You steal it from him. You rip it out of him. You break his will, subjugating him to the utmost horrors before he capitulates to your excesses. Rape is never about the sex, but rather about the domination of the victim, forcibly taking from the victim that which the victim does not want to give, her will to you. We’re bombarded in our country to torture right on our televisions, inside all our homes. The show “24” is apparently replete with torture scenes. I have not watched the show. But I have been disappointed with the show “Alias” and its numerous uses of torture on both good and bad characters.

But you know what is the fascinating thing about the torture scenes in “Alias?” The good guys somehow weather the torture and don’t reveal anything, meanwhile, the bad guys tend to cave in to the torture.

The problem for America’s future is that this is not going away. Like most rapists, their lust for the rape continues. I fear for our future…..


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  1. Dan,

    I have never taken the time to look at blogs before. Having received a personal invitation, I am enjoying reading your blogs. As time goes by, I may email you to find out about other blogs that might be of interest to me.

    HOWEVER, I am a republican at heart who does not agree with the war in Iraq. If we are fighting terrorists, why are we fighting a country who, as near as i can tell, did not support terrorists nor have the WMD’s that were supposedly there? I served in the U.S. Army with pride but do wonder WHY?

    I do not agree with your position on interrogation (did i spell that right?). I have to ponder my position on this issue a little more to comment here.

    I do wonder what your position is in regards to D&C section 98 and “fighting” a war on terrorism/interrogation. I read that section the other day and I am having difficulty reconciling your position vs that scripture. Am I missing something? Possibly, I leave it to you to edify me here.

    I work too many hours and have a great deal on my plate right now but I will be taking time out to read and hopefully comment in the future.

    Russ Onimus

  2. hey Russ,

    So great to see you here on my blog. Did you get a chance to see the other two blogs? Jaime and I keep up on the family here. I also have a blog for my writing, my short stories, here. Take a look at them as well. 🙂

    Iraq is such a mess. I’ve commented on it numerous times. I support our soldiers who are patriotic and sacrifice their lives for what they believe is right. My sister is actually in Iraq right now with her husband. So I’d rather see things go well there. I’ve written before about how I would have done things differently.

    But Iraq aside, what is happening in the “war on terror” regarding our treatment of prisoners is abhorrent. Yes you did spell interrogation correctly. I would like to hear your personal thoughts on it, Russ. I’ve made two comments about it that I hope you get a chance to read: Bush’s “alternative set of procedures” and making a deal with the devil. As you can probably guess, I don’t agree one bit with “aggressive interrogation techniques,” or in a no-spin world, torture. I equate it with rape.

    Before getting into D&C 98, let’s look at what the church has said via its spokesman:

    The church “condemns inhumane treatment of any person under any circumstances,” said church spokesman Dale Bills. “The church has not taken a position on any proposed legislative or administrative actions regarding torture.”

    Now, let’s look at D&C 98

    Many have tried to use this as justification for aggressive actions against our “enemies.” But if we read it carefully, have we followed the steps outlined by the Lord in how to act against those who threaten our families?

    D&C 98, for those who don’t know, was a revelation given to Joseph Smith in regards to the suffering and troubles the Saints were going through in Missouri. This is a few years before the infamous Extermination Order, in which the governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs, legalized the murder of all Mormons in Missouri. That’s another story. But it shows the suffering the Saints of the Lord were going through at the time. So the Lord has given his people counsel on how to act against those who threaten them and their families. Let’s read.

    4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.
    5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

    The Lord says here that it is his will that we observe the laws of the land, and that principles of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges belongs to “all mankind” and is justifiable in his eyes. This one verse should state clearly that anything that takes away from rights and privileges that belong to “all mankind” is not good before God.

    9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

    I can’t add more to this, but that it is true.

    11 And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.

    This is very important. Forsake all evil, no matter how justified we may think it is. Torture is never good. There is nothing good in torture. It is evil. Forsake it because it is evil, at least!

    14 Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.
    15 For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.

    I think Americans are afraid of terrorists. They are, after all, rather anonymous until they strike, making us all afraid of the next possible strike. But what does the Lord say? Be not afraid of your enemies. God will prove us if we are willing to abide by his covenant. If we do not, we’re not worthy of him.

    16 Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children;

    Tied to the previous verse is this. If we are not afraid of our enemy, but abide by God’s covenant, we must renounce war and proclaim peace. Then the Lord does something interesting. He doesn’t say, try to convert people. He says, get them to remember their fathers.

    22 And again I say unto you, if ye observe to do whatsoever I command you, I, the Lord, will turn away all wrath and indignation from you, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

    Before getting into how to react to enemies, he states again to trust Him. Will we?

    23 Now, I speak unto you concerning your families—if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded;
    24 But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you.

    This verse speaks the most powerful out of all the rest. If you or your family are smiten once by someone, and if you respond back in kind, it will be accounted as a justified attack on you! But if you don’t respond, but be patient, you are rewarded. How many of us can do that?

    The next several verses talk about how many times each person and their family need to weather attacks against them before they are justified by the Lord to respond back.

    28 And now, verily I say unto you, if that enemy shall escape my vengeance, that he be not brought into judgment before me, then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name, that he come no more upon you, neither upon your family, even your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.
    29 And then, if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands;

    Look how much patience we need to bear against someone coming upon us and our families! Only after one has escaped God’s own punishment and he keeps coming after you are you justified to have the enemy delivered into your hands. Now the question becomes, what do you do with the enemy in your hands?

    30 And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.
    31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.

    So when he is in our hands, if we spare his life, we are rewarded even more. If we do what we please with his life, we won’t be punished for it, because the enemy got what he meted out.

    Does that mean that we are justified in torturing them? I think that is your call, but remember what torture is about. It is supposedly about gathering information, not about exacting justice. This verse here basically says that if you go through all that process and the Lord has delivered the enemy into your hand, you are justified in killing your enemy. But it does not justify torture, because it does not say anything about torture. And it isn’t as if torture is a new tool; this has been around for a long time. What I’m saying is that D&C 98 is not a place you can look to see if you are justified to torture people. I recommend looking at what the church spokesman said, in which I quoted earlier. That is more relevant to the subject at hand.

    Anyways, let’s move on to the rest of D&C 98. The Lord adds some more relevant things to this discussion.

    33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.

    This should reduce the amount of wars that the people of the Lord fight down to very few wars. I know President Hinckley has said, in his own opinion, that he agreed with the War in Iraq. But he did not proclaim it as the will of the Lord. Which is fine. If members want to participate in that conflict, according to President Hinckley they are justified.

    But as a people of the Lord, we are to renounce war, proclaim peace, and only go to war when the Lord commands. We do live in a nation that is not the Lord’s. This nation is a nation of men, not of God. We are bound to this nation, so if this nation goes to war, we have to decide if we want to participate.

    34 And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;
    35 And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord;
    36 Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people.
    37 And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation.
    38 Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me.

    The Lord would fight our battles. But we first must set up a standard of peace. Have we done that with Iraq? Did the Iraqis start the fight, or did we? America did not follow the principle found here in these verses regarding Iraq. They did, regarding Afghanistan.

    So what’s the moral of D&C 98? In my view, it is that the first response to violence upon us is to raise the standard of peace and to turn to the Lord for protection. If we do that, the Lord will be there for us and fight our battles for us. He did so in the Old Testament, on numerous occasions. Can we trust him today to do the same?

  3. I think that’s the main problem. When the Lord fought for his people not only in the Bible but the Book of Mormon, he did so because all of the people turned to him and worshipped him. Even our early pioneers in this dispensation had the protection of the Lord. For example the mormon batallion, marched toward the mexican border in teh midst of the mexican war and not once fired a shot. I don’t think there is any nation today that can boast that. Which is why we are always taught that we need the armour of God.

    I don’t think it’s even a case of everyone needs to be members of the Lords church, to have his protection. There are millions upon millions of people turning away from God in their every day lives.

    Our biggest defence is to get our missionary work out there.

    People say that the weapons today are unlike those used in any other period. That is true, but that’s got nothing to do with the protection the Lord will give to us if we are righteous. eh

  4. I do have to question those Americans who bash Jane Fonda for covering up the torture of Americans in Hanoi, but then turn and applaud the torure of alleged foreign operatives.

    However I also have to question those who applaud dictatorial regime-building by the Lincoln administration, and then whine when those chicken come home to roost. Again, it’s a clear case of overgrown children wanting to have their birthday-cake and eat it too.

  5. Kirk,

    Don’t become a troll

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