Since “dissidents” in America constantly focus on whether so-and-so technique “constitutes torture” and other irrelevancies, it’s important for us to bear in mind what torture is.
Torture is a psychological operation conducted during a war. It’s primary purpose is to terrorize the social group shared by the torture victims. That is to say, if the American government invades Iraq and an Iraqi nationalist picks up a rifle and shoots and he’s captured and tortured, the “social group” he belongs to are other Iraqi nationalists. By torturing him the American government sends a message (like the Mafia does) to Iraqi nationalists not currently being tortured that “you could be next”.
Information-gathering is a pretext – a public relations front that gives legitimacy to this aspect of war. It’s the same concept as calling the Pentagon the “Department of Defense”. The Pentagon does as much “defending” as American torturers do information gathering. In order to be selected as a torturer self-delusion is a necessity – that is to say the only people who are torturers are those who believe their goal is actually to gather information.
The use of torture means exactly the same thing every time. That’s why repressive regimes and dictatorships so often use torture on their own citizens – they are in a constant war against their own citizens and through torture they terrorize the citizenry into fear and compliance.
The torture of Iraqi nationalists serves the purpose of keeping the Iraqi people cowed and compliant and thus they won’t object to the theft of their natural resources and their subjugation to American elite interests.
It’s easy to see who the American government is warring against – just look at who they are torturing and who they’ve tortured in the past. Arabs are going to be tortured while the subjugation of the Middle East continues. Effective American dissidents are going to be tortured. Anyone who effectively supports democracy or the sovereignty of Arab nations is going to be tortured.
Debating the various torture techniques is irrelevant. Torture itself as well as all other tools of terror and war need to end. Every torture technique is a war crime and the perpetrators should be tried before the International Criminal Court.
The entire executive branch of the U.S. government needs to be brought to trial.