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Stephen Gottlieb: Enhanced Interrogation

We've been hearing people talk about “enhanced interrogation” for quite a while. Then the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the CIA’s use of torture was released this week. And we got another dose of “enhanced interrogation.” We’ve been hearing it so much one stops noticing. That's the technique of the big lie – say it often enough and people accept it.

This time I got in the car in time to hear someone talking about “enhanced interrogations.” I missed the announcement, but I think it was John Brennan, current CIA Chief. No matter, everyone seems to be using the term, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Brennan, it’s in the Report and all over the place – “enhanced interrogation.”

No, they were not “enhanced.” Torture, brutal, degraded and inhumane is not enhanced. I'm disgusted at the use of enhanced as a so-called euphemism for morally unacceptable. It shows how degraded some of us have become when we think totally reprehensible is “enhanced.”

Rape is not “enhanced” affectionate behavior. Murder is not “enhanced” roughhousing.

Until now we blamed the world’s barbarians for torturing people. Now it turns out Americans used torture as official policy. And because we’ve used it, some people try to defend it. That’s the way we corrupt our souls. We’ve allowed ourselves to be dragged into the muck of sin so now we proclaim the sacred power of sin. Yippee.

Republicans were incensed when Clinton had a consensual sexual experience with a young woman but they assert the right to cause extreme suffering, and to make it worse, without even figuring out how many innocent people they were torturing in the process. God forbid we figure that out – the Bush Administration fought every effort to provide the benefit of any legal process designed to separate the innocent from the guilty to the “detainees,” another euphemism. Now they find some of them innocent.

But these days to be tough means to forget law and order and take the law into your own hands, except that’s a euphemism too for doing whatever they felt like regardless of the law. That truly is the message of the Bush Administration and the Bush-Cheney-CIA “enhanced interrogation” – that they are lawless, have no respect for law except as something they can twist for their own purposes. Skip the nonsense of original understanding of the Constitution – it’s just a way to ignore what they don’t like and do something worse.

No “enhanced interrogation” is not acceptable, not in reality and not as a figure of speech. Those responsible should be blacklisted from civil society. Remember these were the trumpets of so-called morality – but what we’re seeing is how immoral they truly are. We’re more moral and better off without them. They deserve to be deported far more than the families they are so determined that Obama deport. Then maybe America could regain its moral compass.

Steve Gottlieb is Jay and Ruth Caplan Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School and author of Morality Imposed: The Rehnquist Court and Liberty in America. He has served on the Board of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and in the US Peace Corps in Iran.

 

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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