Once upon a time, if a character on TV or in a movie tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. We're not only living in a post-9/11 world, we're stuck with Jack Bauer in the 25th hour.
April 28 marks the tenth anniversary of the moment that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were made public in this country. Thus began America's public odyssey with torture, a story in many chapters and still missing an ending.
If we don't take an introspective look at the policies and actions we've taken in the name of national security, actions that grossly violate our fundamental values, then we are leaving the door open for this to happen again.
Trained in the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military interrogators and guards who tortured and dehumanized prisoners in U.S. custody after 9/11 were hardly without ethical bearings.
Try not to think about dying, because there's nothing you can do about it, because you're tied down, because someone is pouring that water over your face, forcing it into you, drowning you slowly and deliberately. You're helpless. You're in agony.
11 years to the day after the Bush administration opened its notorious prison at Guantanamo Bay, Zero Dark Thirty opens nationwide. The filmmakers and distributors are evidently ignorant of the significance of the date -- a perfect indication of the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the film.
For those of us who travel around the world, there is no doubt that, while admired for many other reasons, the United States of America is increasingly losing the moral ground that it not only was proud of, but is trying to preach to the rest of the world.
President Obama has closed the CIA's "black sites," But via rendition -- the sending of terrorist suspects to the prisons of countries that torture -- and related policies, his administration has outsourced human rights abuse to Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.
Torture not only stained our reputation; it weakened American national security. It has alienated entire communities, undermining the capacity of the U.S. to fight terrorism, and given al Qaeda a public relations boon.
Torture is American. How do I know? I am a reporter who for years covered allegations of prison abuse and ill treatment in domestic U.S. prisons. Nearly every technique used at Abu Ghraib had a close, recent parallel in a U.S. facility.
As Americans, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that foreign leaders who violate the human rights of their citizens face justice. But do we demand that our own leaders face justice when they violate the human rights of civilians?