This week’s topic has me all over the place with regards to my opinion or point of view on mindless, cruel yet necessary torture. After going through the recommended readings on specifically Zero Dark Thirty I was quite overcome and “pumped” up from the reviews that I had to watch the movie the very minute I got home. I was really taken aback by the first few scenes where the CIA military unit is using extreme measure and malicious efforts to literally beat information out of some “terrorist” who may not even have the necessary information. It was really hard for me to watch and while I sat squirming at the actions of the interrogation officer I noticed that the other woman character (Maya, the new woman interrogation officer) also felt uncomfortable by the efforts taken to gain valuable information. As the movie continues, you notice how she at first refrained from being involved in such tortures acts, and then as she becomes more involved in the different leads to terrorists, she now goes to any lengths to draw information. This is a clear depiction of how someone gets too close to the case, pours their emotions into the subject, and therefore handles any injustice done personally.
This is evident in the case of Steve Biko, 36 years ago. With the apartheid taste still raw in everyone’s mouth, Biko was interrogated, tortured, refused medical attention and consequently killed for the acts that him and so many other fellow freedom strikers performed. Yes, he may have been one of the big shots, but killing him didn’t clean up the apparent mess he made. White officers who beat him and white doctors who refused to treat him; got too close to the case and handled the situation too personally, to see that he was like any other human being in need of medical attention. Tucker who, in 1991, in expressing remorse and seeking reinstatement, said “I had gradually lost the fearless independence…and become too closely identified with the organs of the State, especially the Police force…I have come to realize that a medical practitioner’s first responsibility is the well-being of his patient, and that a medical practitioner cannot subordinate his patient’s interest to extraneous considerations.”
I also think that most of the time all those efforts of punishing a detainee, who is withholding information, is all in vain. Perhaps that person really doesn’t have the information you’re looking for, perhaps that person tells you incorrect information just so that he may have some food or water, or even, what if that person tells you the correct information but you don’t believe him and continue to beat him? This torture game that these interrogation officers are playing is all just a big gamble, waiting for the jackpot to it, the prisoner to crack and you are rewarded with “valuable information”. But yet, as Chantelle Van Den Berg quoted, “The argument cannot be that we should not torture because it does not work. The argument must be that we should not torture because it is wrong.”
Now that being said, from the other point of view, sometimes torture just isn’t enough for those sick human beings out there. For instance, just today, I read about some despicable man kidnapped a woman’s 4 month old baby girl and her 7 year old son and raped them both. When police eventually found him, and brought him in for questioning, he closed up like a clam, so they had to let him go due to lack of information and evidence. If I was that mother, someone may have to imprison me, because I sure will hand out my fair share of torture on his ass. How sad is it that when the rapist, murderer or kidnapper is sitting right in front of us, we have to politely show him the door to continue raping, murdering and kidnapping because he didn’t feel like telling us why or how he did it. In this case I say, hell yes, keep him there and let’s have the family of these children come shoe him what it feels like to be raped. And I suppose that is still being done today, in the rural communities, where if you inflict harm on any woman or child, you will be punished by the community as they see fit. To an extent I can condemn this, but then the circle is round, and I come right round to the beginning. Who says this person is the culprit? Perhaps he was wrongly accused and that’s why we have courtrooms where some pompous fool can decide who goes to jail or not.
Yes, I would want to beat someone to pulp if they harmed one of my family members yet what if one of my family members was wrongly accused of some heinous crime and they were tortured and beat?