Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Torture Report (and Responses of U.S. Christians): Some Short Takes

Cheney is a man of no regrets and very few scruples. He believes that the end justifies the means. This is, not incidentally, one belief that defenders of torture share with defenders of terrorism. . . . In this imperfect world—where it’s not uncommon for the powerful to get away with evil, and where the strict demands of justice are sometimes at odds with political prudence—those who authorized torture should at the very least be shunned or ignored as they try to defend their shameful record. They no longer deserve a respectful hearing.

As Christians, we have a special responsibility to combat torture. As Maryann Cusimano Love, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, noted in 2009, "Being disciples of a tortured God means that we must never be torturers, but must see in the image of Christ our solidarity with the powerless and marginalized, the victims of torture. We must see the fundamental dignity of human life, the face of God, even in suspected enemies, and treat them accordingly."  . . . The use of torture by U.S. government personnel is an indelible stain upon the nation's conscience. It will not wash off. 

Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches, reporting on a Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows Americans approving of CIA torture of suspected terrorists at a rate of 59%-31% — and at a higher rate among American Christians:

Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. (Those numbers, incidentally, roughly mirror the breakdown of Republican versus Democratic voters among white evangelicals.) … White Catholics believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.

My footnote: what a colossal indictment of the pastoral leadership of the U.S. Catholic bishops in recent years those figures are.

The headline of this posting by Fred Clark at Slacktivist says it all: 

Torture poll demonstrates, quantifies depravity of 'pro-life' white evangelicalism.

And, of course, Fred could equally have added to his headline the following: "Depravity of 'Pro-Life White American Catholicism" — since the support of white Catholics for torture is about equal to the support of white evangelicals in this poll. 

Most Americans believe in the Virgin Birth — and that torture is cool.

At Religion Dispatches, Jana Riess reminds her fellow Mormons of the considerable high-level Mormon involvement in the CIA torture program: 

It [i.e., the Senate report] also reminded Mormons of something we’ve known for a while: that at least two of our own were responsible for drafting and legalizing these reprehensible policies.   
∙ Bruce Jessen, a Washington psychologist, helped to develop the techniques; rather than reproving his actions, the LDS Church called him as a bishop in Spokane, Washington. (He resigned from his calling after a public outcry.)  
∙ Jay Bybee, whom Time magazine once called "The Man Behind Waterboarding," authorized the use of torture when he was a Justice Department official. He is now a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thanks to revelations in the newly released report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is now widely known that the CIA’s torture program was created, supervised, and implemented by two licensed clinical psychologists—James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen—who were paid millions of dollars for their efforts. Less widely known is that the Bush administration’s torture operation, at both the CIA and the Pentagon—at "black sites" and at Guantanamo—was devised and supervised largely by clinical psychologists. 

Sarah Lazare at Common Dreams:

A group of doctors and ethicists has released a searing report (pdf) slamming medical professionals for playing an "essential" role in the CIA's torture program, thereby violating "the most fundamental duty of the healing professions" and potentially committing crimes against humanity.

There is not a single defense raised by these barbarians that has not been raised in the past by people who wanted to torture people with impunity. They can't even summon up the common humanity to concoct original alibis.

"We're the real victims here." When they are caught in the act, it is a frequent psychological ploy among bullies and con men to accuse other of the crime and to play the victim. The senate study has been accompanied by a torrent of such behavior on the part of the Deep State's current and former operatives. 

I repeat: what a colossal indictment of the ostensibly "pro-life" pastoral leadership of the U.S. bishops the high rate of approval of torture among white Catholics is.

I'm grateful to my friend Jo Hardison Lauer for sharing on her Facebook page the Chris Rock tweet at the head of this posting.

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