Thursday, November 17, 2005


Here's Your ''Ticking Time Bomb'' Scenario

Torture supporters constantly bring up "ticking time bomb" fantasy scenarios. Well, it looks like one of those time bombs just went off:
The soldiers counted 166 Sunni Arabs and three Shiite Arabs after asking each prisoner to identify his sect, the reporter, Alisha Ryu, said. The soldiers also found instruments of torture hidden behind ceiling panels in rooms on the first floor. One such device was a metal rod with a ball on the end, similar to a medieval mace.

The discovery of the prisoners has prompted a furious outcry from Sunni Arab leaders, who have long accused the Shiite-led government of abducting and torturing or killing Sunnis.
(Source: New York Times U.S. and Iraqis to Widen Inquiry on Prison Abuse, Nov. 17, 2005.)
Setting up torture chambers starts a time bomb ticking - it is only a matter of time before the public relations bomb goes off:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi man told on Thursday how he was tortured along with hundreds of other detainees in an Interior Ministry building similar to a secret bunker at the center of a prisoner abuse scandal.

"There was an average of 800 prisoners at any one time in a building controlled by the Wolf Brigades (Interior Ministry special forces)," the man, who asked that he only be identified by his initials H.H., told Reuters.
(Source: Reuters Iraqi says he was held with hundreds in secret jail, Nov. 17, 2005.
This in turn makes it very understandable when Iraqi guards seen as death squads.

To repeat: the real problem with torture is that it is both immoral AND ineffective - but it relieves the torturers' feelings of helplessness and frustration. Like so many Bush League solutions, it gives the impression of doing something useful while actually making the problem worse. (Example: worried about another 9/11? Invade Iraq! It may strengthen terrorists worldwide and decrease our ability to defend ourselves - but it looks like you're doing something effective.)


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