By: Mary von Euler
President Obama says torture is not who we are. He should begin the slow process of proving that by firing John Brennan, his chief torture apologist.
Throughout history, from Henry VIII’s Star Chamber to the Spanish Inquisition, from Stalin’s show trial to Hitler’s Gestapo, it has been clear that torture is designed not to obtain the truth but to force false confessions out of its victims. Jane Mayer explains in her book, The Dark Side (Doubleday 2008), that the CIA used techniques designed by a former military psychologist who had taught our military torture techniques so they could withstand torture, if they were captured.
Philip Kennicott in The Washington Post writes that Americans think we are a benign people, an image he finds “astonishingly resilient” despite all the evidence to the contrary. Read it. From slavery to ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, from to imperial conquests to bombing Southeast Asia on a vast scale, from Abu Ghraib to this Senate report on torture of prisoners in violation of national and international standards, we seem to think moral standards don’t apply because America is exceptional. Kennicott writes, “We must have the discipline to see the extent of our national depravity.”
Thus far President Obama has refused to punish those responsible for torture. With the publication of this report, the President can help us atone. He should begin the difficult task of restoring our moral and legal standing – and begin to earn that Nobel Peace Prize during his final years in office. He should start today by firing John Brennan and any other torture apologists in his administration.Back