When we’re talking about torture, we should perhaps begin with what the people in charge have done to the English language. Most dictionaries define the word ‘enhance’ as “to make greater, as in value or beauty .. as in, the candlelight enhanced her beauty”.
In the world of the CIA since 9/11, the code phrase for torture is “enhanced interrogation”. It refers to all sorts of horrid practices designed to force prisoners to talk, and give up vital information.
Torture has been around for thousands of years, but in the 21st century so-called civilized countries like the U.S. and Canada put their signatures on international treaties in which they solemnly promise not to do it. The Senate report, released in Washington this past week, reaffirms once more that such treaties are not worth the paper they appear on.
You don’t think Canadians are involved in this? Talk to a man named Maher Arar, a Canadian who ended up on the rack in Syria because he was suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda. After holding him for a year, and putting him through a living hell, even the Syrians were prepared to say that Arar was innocent. Although his nightmare began when the Liberals were in office in Ottawa, Stephen Harper and company eventually did the right thing and gave Mr. Arar millions in compensation.
His nightmare took place in Syria because, as the Senate report outlined in detail, much of America’s torture is “outsourced” to countries who don’t bother signing those noble treaties. Nine years ago, George W. Bush told the American people that his country was not involved in torturing prisoners, even though by that time the CIA had been quietly sanctioning such activity for years.
The Oscar-winning movie Zero Dark Thirty made it clear that the killing of Osama Bin Laden was made possible because of information that resulted from torture.
Another fuzzy name for it is Rendition. It seems it was ever thus, and ever more will be in many dark corners of the world.
I’m Roger Currie