It was torture when the Japanese did it to Americans. It was enough to void a confession of guilt, by a black guy, accused of killing a white guy, in the Deep South, in the 19-freaking-20’s.

And that’s saying a lot.

So: waterboarding is torture. Torture is a crime. A Japanese officer did hard time fifteen years hard labor after World War II for torturing Americans. What will be done to punish American officials who did the same?

Nicole Belle of C&L reminds us that:

  • 61% of Americans polled believe an independent prosecutor, not the Justice Department, should conduct the investigation into the destruction of the CIA torture tapes.
  • 63% of Americans polled believe there should be an investigation into whether high-level White House or Justice Department officials illegally ordered or authorized the CIA to waterboard prisoners.
  • 66% of Americans polled agree that if President Bush, Vice President Cheney or any other White House official gave the order to destroy the tapes either directly or through one of their subordinates, it would warrant a criminal investigation.

The really funny thing is that the White House keeps trying to pretend that torture is useful. Check this out:

Fratto said CIA interrogators could use waterboarding again, but would need the president’s approval to do so. That approval would “depend on the circumstances,” with one important factor being “belief that an attack might be imminent,” Fratto said.

Right. Because we all live in your fucking movie, Fratto. In your movie-world, we know that this guy knows about the attack, we know enough to ask the right questions, and when he tells the truth, we’ll know it’s the truth, even though we don’t know it yet.

Right? Right.

Fuck, if we know that much, why do we need to ask him anything? And why would torture drive the truth out of his mouth? Historically, torture drives all kinds of bullshit out of the victim’s mouth, anything he thinks the criminal wants to hear. Remember al Libi?

Torture doesn’t work, if by “work” you mean “gets useful information.” It’s only good for sadists and amateurs. And Republicans, apparently.

So let’s stop pretending that there’s a rational reason for torture. The criminals themselves have been taking their cues from American fiction, the defenders of torture are doing the same. We’re not dealing with professionals, and professionals aren’t defending the crime. In 2004, cooks and truck-drivers were being pressed into service as interrogators at Abu-Ghraib.

The torturers live in a fantasy world. But they commit their crimes in ours.