Another Reason to Ban Torture: Saddam Did It

12/12/2005 04:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Another Soldier's perspective on the reasons to ban torture, from OpTruth's Perry Jefferies:

"Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead." -- Will Rogers

Last week the American Progress Action Fund kicked-off the "Torture is Not US" campaign. You can read the details at the campaign's website, and I encourage you to do that, as well as sign up, invite your associates to read it (don't limit it to friends), and tell your legislators about it. This is more than important -- it is about our very reasons for serving. Let me explain that a bit.

We all know that Soldiers join the Army for a variety of reasons. Some sign up for college money or to try to improve their own situation, and some enlist for more idealistic reasons. But in the end, almost all adhere to their oaths and adopt the professional Army ethic or whatever is appropriate for their service. Thousands are proving that every day all around the world. They are willing to sacrifice so that America can try to be secure and encourage the world to be just a little bit better. Some of our troops may have their moments, and we'd be dishonest to ignore them, but by and large they are not psychopaths and sadists, and they do not take pleasure in the sufferings of others. For an example of that, tune in to the trial of Saddam Hussein and listen to the witness' stories.

What is very disheartening to me is that among the questions asked by the defense in this trial were questions about Witness A's treatment: "Were you photographed? Were you threatened with dogs?" This is another way of asking "was the treatment you received at the hands of Saddam and his henchmen as bad as the Americans gave to other Iraqis?" We know that the answer to that question is no. What is so very sad is that it could be asked and that for some, the answer might be in question. Because the fact is that for some Iraqis and others, including the innocent, the treatment meted out by America was almost indistinguishable from that of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It is revolting to me that this administration would allow and even promulgate these ideas as an issue. John McCain, hardly a lily-livered dove, feels compelled to propose an amendment to ban what should be unthinkable to begin with -- the official American sponsorship of torture. Soundly endorsed by almost all military and foreign policy experts with any real-world experience, it is only opposed by a few in the administration and some winking, movie-watching, chickenhawks.

See the "Torture is Not US" page for more on McCain's amendment and for the commonly known reasons that torture does not work -- not even in the artificially generated 'what if' scenario painted by some apologists of the 'terrorist with a ticking nuke.' There is another reason that I oppose torture and I think it is a good one for Operation Truth. As leaders (and we are all leaders, even that 'corporal-in-training'), we owe it to the souls and futures of our Soldiers to not encourage or allow our troops to take actions that will haunt them later. War is tough enough and decisions are often made in less than ideal circumstances, but the decision to commit deliberate cruelty is one that is not made in the heat of the moment, but with a true methodical thought process. And those things catch up with Soldiers -- sometimes years later -- but they catch up.

Somebody out there will say that our troops are young and may be confusing "blowing off a little steam" with the proper treatment of people that may have tried to kill you. But unlike drug-addicted, draft-dodging radio commentators, I would prefer to rely on the wisdom of a brand new sergeant I spoke with one day at Fort Hood. He'd been badly wounded in a stand-up firefight in Iraq, one in which he prevailed, but lost Soldiers and spent months recovering from. We were talking about Pfc. England's trial then happening a mile or so from us. He said that the way he looked at it, most detainees probably got what they deserved, but that when they'd picked up a bunch that had shot at them, he went to his commander and asked that they be guarded by someone other than those who'd fought them. He didn't want anything "un-American" to happen to them. If that young sergeant can understand why we shouldn't abuse even those that shoot at us -- so should the administration.

Torture is un-American. That is unequivocal.