Torture undermines the moral standing of the U.S.


Thank you for the May 6 lead story on Island County Prosecutor Greg Bank’s visit to the Guantanamo prison in Cuba. The Guantanamo prison disgrace needs public attention.

The article features a visit to a military commission trial of defendants accused of crimes during the early years of the Iraq war. I support the prosecution of these crimes if they had followed Constitutional process. As is widely recognized, those being tried have been held in limbo now for over 10 years without formal charges or a timely trial. And some being held are even known to be innocent. The whole process, as the article notes, has many serious Constitutional violations. The most serious of which is the acknowledged use of torture during their incarceration. Torture is against international law in the Geneva Conventions and other laws of which the United States is a signatory. The U.S., as well as the Guantanamo defendants, need to be held accountable for the crimes they have committed.

Torture is morally and legally one of the foremost crimes against humanity. Worse, it doesn’t work. If any other nation had been so blatantly guilty of these crimes the U.S. surely would have pointed out its illegality and tried to hold them accountable in the international courts. A Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2014 produced a scathing 6,200-page report on the U.S.’s use of torture, but only a summary and key findings have been released to the public. No U.S. officials who approved of torture, nor those who carried out the torture, have been held accountable even though this is required under international law. Our unaccountable use of torture undermines the moral standing of the U.S.