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Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 15, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Senate torture report: We are our own enemy

One neglected area of the discussion surrounding the release of the Senate torture report is what others think of us [“Moral growing pains for America with release of torture report,” Opinion, Dec. 10].

We have interests around the world and in many cases we ask others to cooperate with us or assist us. We are frequently surprised when they are reluctant or downright unwilling to do so. After all, we’re the good guys and we are going after bad guys aren’t we?

But many around the world think we are the bad guys going after the good guys. People who hold that belief can be expected to balk. But how could they get it so wrong?

The rest of the world seems to believe that what we did was torture. Good guys don’t torture. Bad guys do.

It’s too late to undo the wrong that we have done. But the least we can do is to own up to our failing and take steps to ensure that it never happens again. (It would help if we threw some of the perpetrators in jail, but apparently we now only jail the poor and the powerless.)

The fact that we tortured people has gravely harmed our ability to advance our interests around the world. I agree with the report that no good came of these shameful actions.

But even if you reject that position, then the modest benefits achieved are overwhelmed by the harm we have done to our own interests. And that harm costs American lives.

Good guys don’t torture for any reason. Period. If we don’t believe that and act accordingly, even if the cost is great, then we are the bad guys.

Patrick J. Russell, Seattle

Comments | More in torture | Topics: CIA, Patrick J. Russell, Torture

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