James Forsyth

The torture debate is about to become even more contentious

The torture debate is about to become even more contentious
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The torture debate has been dominating American politics ever since the Obama administration released the legal opinions of the Bush administration on what interrogation techniques American operatives could use. There is little doubt that many of the techniques sanctioned would be considered torture by most people. However, Bush administration officials—most notably former Vice President Cheney—have argued that the Obama administration should now also release the memos which show that these techniques produced information which helped prevent further attacks.

This news from NBC’s First Read suggests that the debate is about to move to the next level:

“U.S. officials tell NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski that the Pentagon and military are preparing to release as many as 2,000 photos -- including several dozen that apparently show alleged prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay and other military detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, which have not been seen publicly, would be the first visual evidence of possible prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and they are being released in response to a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU. (Per Mik, one U.S. official said the photos are "not as bad as those from Abu Ghraib,” but "they're not good.")…”

In a way, the debate we are having about torture now is far more honest than the ones we have had previously. They were characterised by one side saying it wasn’t torture so there’s no debate and the other stating that torture doesn’t work so there is no trade off between our values and our security. Maybe, now we can have a more reasoned conversation about it. But I suspect that this is an issue where passions run so, understandably, high that there will always be more heat than light generated.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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