Thursday, December 11, 2014

Torture: What Would Jesus Say?

Following the Senate Intelligence Committee's release of the torture report summarized succinctly in the lead by the Guardian...

The full extent of the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday that concluded the agency’s use of torture was brutal and ineffective – and that the CIA repeatedly lied about its usefulness."

...there's a surprising silence.

Where are America's religious leaders?   What do they say?

In the interviews of Republicans objecting to the release of the report who during their re-election campaigns tout both family and American values, where is the basic accountability question for those American values?   What would Jesus say?   I'm meaning no disrespect to other religions, but Republicans who tout family values are usually Christian. 

In the current debate on the effectiveness of torture there's much discussion of what would work and what wouldn't work.  Commentators and politicians alike say this is a complex question.   Is it?   Do you approve of torture or not?   Is beating your wife ok?   Is sexual assault on campus ok?  It's not complex at all.   Do you approve of torture?  

What are some of things the CIA did?   As the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report states, among the techniques were:  rectal hyrdration, threatening detainees with threats to harm detainees' families, including threats to sexually abuse the mother of the detainee.   Captives were stripped naked.  Dragged and hit.  

 What would Jesus say?    

Forget the Geneva Convention.   Join Dick Cheney in flushing the Constitution down the toilet.   Just go straight to religion.   After all, it was President Bush who said he prays every day.   Did he pray for guidance on torture?   Is that something a religious person who reads the New Testament even needs to ask for divine guidance?  

The King James Bible says, "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheeck offer also the other; and him that taketh away they cloke forbid not to take thy coat also."   Is there any possibility that somehow "turn the other cheek" equates to "feed the person through his rectum?" 

Ask the question.   What would Jesus say President Bush?   What would Jesus say Congressman Rogers?  What would Jesus say Secretary Rumsfeld?   Would Jesus say, "threaten to run a broomstick up their ass!"

Full Disclosure:  I think torture is wrong.   I think lying to Congress is wrong.   I think lying to the American people is wrong.  And anyone who believes anything Dick Cheney says should give me a call because I can give you a great buy on the Brooklyn Bridge as long as you send me cash first.  And someone should ask Dick Cheney, what would Jesus say?

The threat to American democracy comes not from terrorism but from government secrecy combined with the failure of the press to do its job.

When it comes to torture, a worthwhile question to ask your politician or government official is what would Jesus say?      Don't hold your breath waiting for that question to be asked.   Keep in mind, the reason we had a war in Iraq was because the press failed to do its job. And now, journalists just play he said/she said.   

Imagine for a moment what both friends and enemies would be saying if the United States had treated prisoners humanely.   We didn't.   We tortured.   We're a country that thinks it's ok to feed a prisoner by shoving food up his ass.  We're a country that thinks it's ok to strip prisoners naked and beat them.   Global climate change will take care of our species in the coming years, but in the meantime, perhaps we should ask, what would Jesus say?    

A worthwhile reminder of what the press should do and the problems caused when it fails is to read an excellent book,  935 Lies by Charles Lewis.

When journalism fails, what would Jesus say?


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