While the Bush administration made torture the policy and practice of our nation, it is not enough that the Obama administration renounce that policy. We can’t walk away from the torture our government has committed. That record has made a mockery of our claims to stand for principles of decency, morality, and lawfulness. It has helped hostile groups around the world recruit the disaffected against us. It has stirred friend and foe against us, while doing nothing for our security, which has been far more effectively served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere by officers employing the legal and honorable methods of interrogation that served us in earlier wars.
By torturing, our government has helped make cruelty seem like an acceptable practice for governments and groups around the world, rather than a sign of depravity. Finally, our government’s torturing has put all Americans in danger because a government that teaches its soldiers and agents to torture and tries to make its people accept the necessity of torture will sooner or later turn torture against anyone it considers its enemies, including its own people.
President Obama and Sen. Olympia Snowe, among others, have argued against prosecuting any torturers who were guided by Justice Department rulings that justified harsh interrogation methods. That argument, of course, places the blame on President Bush and other high officials who requested those illegal rulings and on the lawyers who provided them. Those are the ones, Obama and Snowe are in effect saying, who should be prosecuted.
James Parakilas, Lewiston


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