THE BLOG
12/12/2007 05:10 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How Torture Cost Lives

In this ridiculous debate we're having now on whether America should torture people (next up for debate: Should America become Syria?), people only seem to be talking about the potential of torture to save lives. But what we should really be talking about is how torture costs lives. Which it has, on a grand scale.

I'm not talking about the nearly one hundred men who have died while in US custody (34 are suspected or confirmed as homicides, including beating men to death at Bagram Air Base and detainees whose arms and legs we broke just for "amusement"). Those are Arab detainees, though some of them were innocent, I understand that in the ugly America we live in today, people don't care about the lives of Arabs.

I'm talking about American lives that were lost because of torture. We now have declassified CIA cables that explain how we sent Ibn al Sheikh al Libi to be tortured in Egpyt. They buried him alive and beat him mercilessly until he confessed that Iraq and Al Qaeda were linked. The only problem was they weren't. He made up the story to get his captors to stop torturing him.

According to the CIA, al Libi "had difficulty even coming up with a story" on the non-existent ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The false admission beaten out of al Libi was later used by Colin Powell at the United Nations as a justification for starting the Iraq War.

The Iraq War has cost the lives of nearly 4,000 Americans. Another 30,000 Americans have been wounded or maimed for life. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have lost their lives. Why? Because we beat a false confession out of al Libi about ties that did not exist between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

How many more lives are we willing to risk on false information we get out of tortured detainees? How many more Americans must die before we realize torture doesn't work?

Unless, of course, you wanted to get false information. But there wasn't anyone in the Bush administration who wanted false information about the ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq, was there?

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