John Overmyer, NewsArt

A 'silly' debate about torture? What a senseless argument

  • Article by: PETER DROSS
  • May 12, 2011 - 9:22 PM


With no discernible military or national security experience, Jay Ambrose is yet another amateur writing from the ranks of the torture apologists and perpetrators trying desperately to rewrite the history of the United States' shameful and misguided descent into torture post-9/11 ("Torture debate is serious, but our debate about it is silly," May 8).

If his argument is that it's the political left arguing against the use of torture, he should pay attention to the more than 100 senior leaders from the military, national security and foreign-policy sectors --including three defense secretaries and four members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- who urged President Obama to issue an executive order banning torture two years ago.

If his argument is that the use of torture hastened the identification of Osama Bin Laden's location, he should pay attention to the professional military interrogators -- including some who were part of the hunt for Bin Laden -- who have asserted that the use of torture may have in fact delayed the identification of Bin Laden's lair.

If his argument is that since we have only admitted to waterboarding three prisoners, then we really didn't engage in much torture, he should pay attention to the report of the Senate Armed Services Committee and other official reports that document horrifying and widespread use of torture and other forms of prisoner abuse.

If his argument is that sometimes we just need to use torture to get good information, he should pay attention to the Center for Victims of Torture, which has extended care to more than 20,000 torture survivors.

Our clients tell us that they would -- and did -- say anything to make the torture stop. The last thing our professional intelligence community needs -- in the short term when lives may be at stake, and in the long term, such as the hunt for Bin Laden -- is bad information.

Our professional military, national security and intelligence leaders argue against the use of torture. The Star Tribune does a disservice to readers by publishing claptrap of the type offered by Mr. Ambrose and others who have a direct interest in diverting attention from the good, old-fashioned intelligence work that led to the location of Osama Bin Laden.

Peter Dross of Minneapolis is director of policy and development for the Center for Victims of Torture.

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