Torture, Words, Truth

Torture, Words, Truth

The world has quickly learned not to believe one word of whatever President Trump says. He just plays with language – to a degree, I suspect, never before reached by any political leader anywhere, anytime.

The question of torture, and in particular, ‘water-boarding’, has re-emerged in the first weeks of his reign, because the President announced he intends to return to its use. We need to be aware of the language long used, officially in America, about torture and water-boarding.

For decades, a committee of the United Nations has attempted to reach international agreement on torture. America has successfully blocked it on every occasion – by two very simple, but effective moves. Firstly it insists that America emphatically has always condemned torture – it is illegal. However it also insists that it would be wrong to define a clearly worded, but arbitrary definition of the boundary – “we all will know it and agree when we see it” it repeats. Almost end of debate. No other nation agrees with America on the issue.

The definite end of the debate however is in its next move. Water-boarding is not torture, it repeats; it is merely an “interrogation facilitation technique”. The complete end of debate.

Under that wonderful label, Kalid Sheik Mohammed was water-boarded 183 times in the first 2-3 weeks of his capture. He apparently never gave any information the Americans wanted. That non-result is consistent with most judgments of the uselessness of the technique – despite the valiant effort of the torturers. Kalid, it seems is no longer water-boarded – he is, according to rumour (no official statement I believe has been made), a living cabbage; he has lost his mind. One wonders where along the line to 183 episodes did the torturers decide to continue simply as vindictive punishment of the ‘bastard’ for cheating them.

President Obama made the technique illegal. We have no evidence, I believe, whether that judgment had any effect on the practice. It seems safe to say, however, that water-boarding is about to have a fine future. So, watch out for senior Republican leaders  repeating in the near future that they are opposed to all ‘torture’. Stop!  But as usual Trump wont care a fig what word he uses; or whether he says contrary things each day.

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