We Must Denounce Torture
May 23, 2005
Every American should be filled with anger and disgust at the continuing revelations of torture by U.S. troops. Sadism run amok led to the death of an innocent taxi driver at the Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan. Dilawar, the 22-year-old taxi driver, who had the misfortune to drive by an American base that had been a terrorist target, was thought to be an innocent bystander even by his torturers. Yet they hung him by his arms, crucifixion-style, tormented, and killed him anyway, apparently for their own pleasure.
We must denounce these crimes--at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, at Bagram, and wherever else they occur. They are happening in our name. They are contrary to everything a civilized society should stand for.
On the same day Tim Golden reported the horrifying story of Dilawar in The New York Times, President Bush held a self-congratulatory press conference to declare the investigation of abuses at Abu Ghraib a model of transparency and accountability. The same week, the Administration continued to denounce Newsweek for supposedly sparking riots in Afghanistan with its inadequately sourced story of Koran desecration by U.S. guards. It has become a pattern for this Administration to suggest that its critics are responsible for stirring up hostility to the United States, avoiding the fact that the real responsibility lies with a government that has established a pattern of criminally inhumane behavior.
The distance between American ideals of freedom, due process of law, and democracy and the reality of the torture chambers has grown into a gaping wound.
The revelations keep coming.
We can't ignore them, or blame the media, or pretend these accounts that keep piling up are mere aberrations.
It's time for a full-scale investigation not just of particular instances of torture and the American personnel directly involved, but of the directors of policy at the highest levels who continue to perpetrate these crimes.