And the more you read, the more you realize how deep the Bush-Cheney legacy runs and how the torture and ‘enemy combatant’ state, celebrated nightly on Fox, easily seeps into domestic law enforcement. Notice how Cheney actually wanted to use the military against “suspects” in America.
. . . This man is also in the National Guard.
My first reaction to this was an exaggerated eye-roll, followed shortly by something to the effect of “sure, torture is really, really bad, but does police misconduct have anything to do with military interrogation practices?” Then I remembered this frightening article from the Boston Globe:
If the spread of torture techniques suggests a blurry line between “us” and “them,” it also teaches that there’s no real boundary between “there” and “here.” It would be ignoring history to assume that what happens in an American-run prison in Iraq will stay in Iraq. Soldiers who learn torture techniques abroad get jobs as police when they return, and the new developments in torture you read about today could yet be employed in a neighborhood near you.
In Chicago, in the decade after Vietnam, the use of magnetos and other clean tortures left a disaster: At least 11 men were sentenced to death and many others given long-term prison sentences based on confessions extracted by torture, and in 2003, Governor George Ryan of Illinois commuted the death sentences of all 167 death row inmates. Earlier this month the City of Chicago agreed to pay nearly $20 million to settle lawsuits filed by four former death row inmates who claimed they were tortured and wrongly convicted.
I think this is one of the most compelling points in favor of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, even if it doesn’t result in retroactive prosecution. Reestablishing widely-held social norms against torture really is the only way to ensure that mistreatment doesn’t become routinized, particularly if ‘enhanced interrogation tactics’ are likely to bleed into daily law enforcement.