The Case Against Torture Tactics

In the war against terror, evil never plays fair. But we should hold to a higher standard then our enemies: We should not use torture techniques against suspected terrorists and detainees.

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Consider this: In that poll, 62 percent of Americans do not think Congress should hold hearings to investigate the Bush administration's treatment of detainees. Only 33 percent, in fact, do want such an investigation. In addition, a

Pew poll

showed that even religious Americans are more likely to justify torture of terrorism suspects.

Why is this the case? Why are there no widespread "torture tea parties" across the county? I must admit, I struggle with this issue, even though I am dead set against the torture of any detainee in U.S. custody. We are in a war; we do fight against an enemy with no moral scruples whatsoever; we do fight with people who would kill and maim millions of innocent people if they had the wherewithal. It is very tempting, when one of these suspected barbarians are captured, to subject him to the harshest of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" as a matter of revenge, if not using it to try and to obtain vital information (though it has been repeatedly shown to be ineffective).


But we must always remember that everyone we may happen to capture in this newly-dubbed "Long War" may not be a hardened terrorist. In fact, we have had many people in our detention system that were subjected to "harsh techniques," and were later found to be innocent. Most of those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay were ultimately released because they were found to be innocent. So I believe that not only should the United States not engage in the torture at all, we should of course never torture innocent people in our custody.

Moreover, whenever I hear people talk about the torture of terror suspects, they repeatedly bring up the case that terrorists have beheaded innocent people, killed men, women, and children without any regard for human life. Yet, when has evil ever played fair? When has evil ever been civilized? In the Qur'an, there are several passages that detail the story of Adam and Eve, and it shows how evil has never acted on a level playing field. As the story in the Qur'an goes, God had shaped Adam with His very hands and breathed His spirit into Adam. God then ordered the angels -- Satan along with them -- to bow before Adam. Satan refused. "I am better than he," quipped Satan to God, "You have created me from fire, and You created him from mud."

God then expelled Satan from the Garden, and in revenge, Satan vowed to tempt Adam and his progeny away from the path of righteousness. Then God told Adam to "dwell you and your wife in this garden, and eat freely thereof, both of you, whatever you may wish; but do not approach this one tree, lest you become wrongdoers." (2:36) Satan immediately got started on Adam and his wife: "Your Lord has but forbidden you this tree," he said to them, "lest you two become [as] angels, or lest you live forever. And he swore unto them, 'Verily, I am those who wish you well indeed!" (7:20-21)

When they listened to him, they were expelled from the Garden, sent to live a temporary, yet difficult life on earth. God warns humanity about Satan and his tactics: "O Children of Adam! Do not allow Satan to seduce you in the same way as he caused your ancestors to be driven out of the garden...Verily he and his tribe are lying in wait for you where you cannot perceive them!" (7:27) Evil always plays dirty. Evil has no compunction from lying, cheating, and distorting the truth to achieve its ends. Evil can see us while we can't see them. Evil has never played fair -- that is its true nature.

When faced with the brutality of evil and the unfairness of evil, the true muster of a civilized people is how they respond. As President Obama said in his 100 Day news conference, "Part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world, is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy."

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