|Pic courtesy UK Daily Telegraph|
Back in 1984, when he signed the UN Convention against torture, US President Ronald Reagan said this -
The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.
Yesterday, a number of Republicans, including Marco Rubio, a likely 2016 presidential contender, issued the following statement after the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terror suspects -
The juxtaposition makes it starkly clear how the extremists on the Right have hijacked the Republicans in the USA. To be completely fair, this issue has divided the Republican Party, with John McCain, who has been on the receiving end of torture, making his views plain -
I commend Chairman Feinstein and her staff for their diligence in seeking a truthful accounting of policies I hope we will never resort to again. I thank them for persevering against persistent opposition from many members of the intelligence community, from officials in two administrations, and from some of our colleagues.
The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.
They must know when the values that define our nation are intentionally disregarded by our security policies, even those policies that are conducted in secret. They must be able to make informed judgments about whether those policies and the personnel who supported them were justified in compromising our values; whether they served a greater good; or whether, as I believe, they stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good.
McCain, of course, is a patriot, not a partisan. His statement refers to "the values that define our nation". Those who support the use of torture as a means to provide security forget that the abandonment of these core values leaves nothing worthwhile to defend. It brings the perpetrators to exactly the same level of depravity as those they claim they are fighting.
No civilized nation, no matter how threatened, can use torture as a means to ensure security. It was not necessary in two world wars. It is not necessary now.
History is a harsh and fearless judge. That's why the atrocities committed by the Japanese (for example) are burned into our national consciousness.
The march towards extremism exhibited across the Pacific has its echoes here, where crass ideology has begun to highjack Coalition policies.
We need to keep an eye on the Yanks and learn from their mistakes.
We also need to call to account those politicians here who exhibited craven cowardice around the treatment of at least one Australian citizen.