It's Not Torture and It Is Necessary
By Rabbi Aryeh Spero
Posted Jan 16, 2007
Like Freddy Krueger, the anti-Western monsters of the so-called human rights groups reappear every month or so proclaiming: “I’m back!” Their mission is to derail our attempts at defending ourselves against jihadism by demanding impossibly high and foolish standards from America and Israel as to what is allowable in fighting terror while overlooking the daily atrocities by Islamic radicals against the West. Listening to them, one comes away believing that the only place in the world where torture is taking place is at Gitmo and that the only victims today of cruelty are Islamic terrorists and the “peace-loving” crowds in the Arab street.
What is happening at Gitmo is not torture but coercion. And it is happening to only those few who we believe have knowledge of impending terrorist strikes against our cities and population or know of others who are formulating such plans. Unlike what is happening in the Islamic and Palestinian world, we Americans do not torture for sheer barbaric enjoyment, or as a means of revenge, nor even as a way of frightening foes. We employ momentary and isolated acts of physical or psychological coercion for the exclusive purpose of eliciting information we are convinced will save lives, thousands of lives.
In the Muslim world, victims are left with permanent defacing of the human body such as cut off fingers, ears, noses, gouged out eyes, and scars and incinerations from fire that remain with the victim for life. Such torture is done for the sake of torture and suffering alone and does not end until the thug reaches self-satisfaction. Such tortures incapacitate and cause excruciating pain for the remainder of that person’s life. We do not do any of that.
The psychological torture of victims watching their family members writher in unspeakable pain or death is the enemy’s way, not ours. We carefully have chosen forms of minimal coercion that do not permanently deface and whose duration and effect are limited to that moment necessary to convince the terrorist to reveal diabolical schemes. While serious interrogation must be done, we still treat prisoner as human beings while the enemy does everything possible and imaginable to cause needless suffering and strip the persons of human-hood.
What they do is torture, and it is done not to save lives but simply as acts of cruelty. Left-wing scoffers notwithstanding, we have not become like the enemy; we remain in a category eons above that practiced and preached by the jihadists. The anti-Western leftists are simplistic when equating acts of temporary and limited coercion in service of saving lives with those of brutal, open-ended tortures of the worst kind done simply for the sake of agony. They make these simplistic equivalences to demoralize us and shake our belief in the morality and urgency of our cause. We cannot allow the anti-American left within to redefine terms so that that which is not the same is perceived to be the same.
There can be no doubt that the temporary discomfort inflicted upon a particular terrorist is justifiable when done to save thousands. Certainly, pain is not the equivalent of life itself, so that even saving one life takes precedence over the pain of the terrorist. Moreover, we must choose the life of the innocent over the condition of the guilty, especially when the innocent have no recourse whereas the guilty has the option of preventing his own pain by revealing his plans for murder and freely choosing to forgo his plans to kill others. Unlike the innocent American citizen, the terrorist has a way out.
A moral society does not stand by, doing nothing, while an innocent person is about to be killed. It is our moral duty to stop those intent on killing innocent people, or those complicit and knowing of others who wish to kill, before the murder takes place. The “dignity” of the would-be murderer, his treatment, must be inconsequential to those in position to stop him. Indeed, by stopping the terrorist, through coercion, before he murders, we are saving the would-be murderer himself from the sin of murder.
Normal people understand their obligation to first protect and be concerned about the lives and safety of those for whom they are responsible: first, your family, then your community and nation. Long ago, it became evident that the transnationalists at the New York Times and the ACLU are psychologically abnormal and thus do not root for the lives of their countrymen over the lives or even the sensibilities of our enemies. After all, to them, many conservative Americans are the enemy, and those abroad wishing to punish us are kindred spirits.
Alas, what is so striking, now, about these left-wing groups is their amorality, their comfort with it. Human Rights Watch and Center for Constitutional Rights have become misnomers for groups preoccupied with the sensibilities of jihadist terrorists hell-bent on killing innocent Americans yet completely unmoved about the horrific torture of American servicemen and kidnapped Israeli soldiers. They’ve spent the last two weeks using contributions from naïve donors to mourn the hanging of Saddam Hussein. How safe we must all feel knowing they are watching out for the human rights of terrorists and making sure Islamists are provided more constitutional protections than they are willing to grant our President, the Commander in chief.
From the New York Times’ five-day lament of how Saddam was treated to the obsession of the so-called human rights organizations regarding the need for Club Med amenities at Club Gitmo, it is clear that the left is not liberal or simply misguided. Their perverse politics and view of life have made them amoral. Worse, they have chosen the side of evil. They are no longer respectable company. Their opinions shouldn’t matter.