PBS’s Frontline documentary “The Torture Question” last night explored at length the U.S. policy on the abuse and torture of prisoners. No amount of euphemism (e.g: “coercive interrogation,” “enemy combatant,” “detainee”) or protestation by our government officials can convince me that we, the United States, should be engaging in such activities.
What we saw at Abu Ghraib prison was neither the beginning nor the end of our abuse of prisoners. It was not just an isolated incident, a single example of policy or perpetrators run amok. It was a part of our conduct of the “war on terror” that continues today.
Yielding the moral high ground from which we launched this war does nothing but weaken our own position and encourage the enemy. So-called enemy combatants may not subscribe to the Geneva Conventions, but the United States does. The Conventions specifically forbid “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment” of prisoners of war. U.S. officials who flout the Conventions, who indulge in semantics to circumvent them, should be exposed and expelled from office.