Some in the US have now admitted that others in the US tortured some other people: see for example [[Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture]]. But on the whole, the people in charge at the time aren’t admitting it, and the CIA can’t even bring itself to use the T-word. Bystander pointed me at this old post containing wise words from George Orwell about corruption of language, and the following from [[A Man for All Seasons]]:
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More1: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
Once I’ve said that, there’s not much more I need to say, because you know what “side” I’m on. But of course I will say more. The West is fat and fearful. We know – or suspect, or fear – that we’re over privileged and that lots of the rather less privileged aren’t very happy about that, but we’re not about to give up our lives of luxury (see? This segues seamlessly into the GW debate; with mostly the same people on the same “sides”; see? I’ve just called the denialists pro-torture, oh dearie me). So while some of us will call torture torture and call for it to stop, many will call it enhanced interrogation and mumble quietly about regrettable necessity. Not Big Ben2, who said
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety
Plenty of other people say much the same; Bruce Schneier is one. The Economist calls the report A tawdry record, but facing up to the past is the best protection for the future which I think optimistic; as I said, lots of USA-ians aren’t facing up to the past. Or the present: The majority of US rape victims are male.
And on not the-same-but related, this on electronic tags by Ross Anderson.
1. When I first heard this many years ago, it was watching the play itself. In which [[More gets a role of staunch moral rectitude. A different work of fiction, [[Wolf Hall]], paints a somewhat different picture, and who am I to say which is correct. In this instance, however, I’m primarily concerned with the words themselves rather than the character of whoever might have spoken them.
2. According to wiki, [[Benjamin Franklin]] ”returned home in 1785… became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves”. Which is spiffy, but my quote comes from 1755. Now, technically, BF was talking about people who ”give up” liberty to purchase safety, and his slaves hadn’t voluntarily given anything up; nonetheless the dissonance leaves a poor taste.