Physicians for Human Rights has launched a campaign Broken Laws, Broken Lives to document medical evidence of torture, and raise awareness of torture experienced by detainees in American custody. The Preface to their report is written by Major General Antonio Taguba (USA, Ret), who led the US Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May, 2004. From his Preface:
This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.
The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted—both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.
The full report is deeply troubling, and recommended reading. How can we, as Americans, reach a point of desperation such that we accept, rationalize, and even encourage subhuman behavior? Is there any evidence that information obtained through torture is accurate, or valuable? How is American security enhanced by our abandoning respect for basic human rights?
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