You may have missed it during the health care debate, but a Republican House Member, Aaron Schock, explicitly came out in favor of torture. Not "enhanced interrogation techniques", torture. As far as I can tell, this is the first time this has happened. Even John Boehner backed away from his remarks earlier this year that included the word. A diarist on Daily Kos documented the event in this post.
While I am a Democratic candidate running to take Aaron Schock's seat, I wrote the following op-ed piece in the local paper, the Peoria Journal-Star as a Gulf War Veteran.
Our congressman, Aaron Schock, has come out in favor of torturing terror suspects - but only, he said, if we knew they had information about an imminent threat to Americans. Many might think this just reflects the cold reality of the world we live in, the war we're waging. As a Gulf War veteran, someone who has served and risked capture, it is my opinion that this is a misguided belief.I have a diary at Daily Kos if you would like to read more of what I have written. Not much is on my campaign web site yet, but it's about to get a major upgrade this week so there will be more on the issues soon.
Consider the arguments for torture:
1. Sometimes it's the only way to get intelligence. Getting your average someone to confess to something, anything, isn't difficult. Getting fanatics to betray their cause, that's another story entirely.
"What would you do to save your family" is the question we hear a lot to justify torturing a prisoner. Well, turn it around. If someone meant to do your family harm and needed to know their location, would they be able to torture it out of you? That's the kind of resolve we'd be facing and the reason experts will tell you why torture doesn't work.
2. It will intimidate our enemy. Do they intimidate us with their brutality, or do they fill us with resolve? So why would they feel differently if we mistreat their comrades, their fathers, brothers, sons? Torture will only serve as a recruiting tool, a reason for our enemies to fight harder to avoid capture, while providing them an excuse to torture their own prisoners - our soldiers.
3. We can't tie our interrogators' hands. Giving interrogators well-defined boundaries is not tying their hands, it's avoiding the opening of a Pandora's box. If we cross the line into torture, then how far do we go? Fire? Acid? Surgical instruments? What if the person with the intel was a child?
Our leaders must decide what is acceptable practice and not try to hand it off to others. I was taught in the military that you can only delegate authority, not responsibility. Leaders should lead.
The only thing exceptional about our circumstances is our country, and that is because of the principles upon which it was founded, principles that make it a beacon to the world. It's why I served, and why all of us love our country so.
These principles cannot be compromised; otherwise they are, by definition, no longer principles. Congressman Schock's statements betray those principles and his own inexperience. We are better than this. We are Americans.
Democratic candidate for Congress, 18th District