How can you counter terrorism with torture when torture is a form of terrorism?
Here’s why I mean by that radical statement that “torture is a form of terrorism”
The power of terrorism is that it is completely lawless. The terrorist believes that his cause condones outrageous cruelty. His cause not only threatens to kill and maim, but to do so aimlessly at random and mindlessly. The terrorist’s main threat (and the reason he inspires terror) it that there is a certain irrational, unpredictable senselessness to his actions. Yes, he has a cause supported by a perverse logic, but he walks like a creature of the night in a world of irrational rage. His cruelty and horror is intentionally mindless and it is the demonic irrational violence that most inspires terror.
Terrorism subverts the rule of law. Terrorism runs counter to the laws of civilization and reason. Terrorism operates underground, behind the scenes and in secret.
Furthermore, terrorism is driven by an insane hatred fueled by paranoia. The suspect must be guilty and the terror must make him submit. If he submits (whether it is a lie to escape pain or not) the terror has worked and confirmed the terrorist suspicions. If the victim does not submit it only proves how stubborn and strong he is in hie error.
The same sick, paranoiac mentality underlies the plans of the torturer. If the victim confesses it proves the torture to be effective. If he does not confess it proves how stubborn the criminal really is.
Likewise torture works in the same secretive and suspicious way. Torture is underground and hidden. Torture subverts the law and inspires fear and loathing by doing so.
The victims of both the terrorist and the torturer does not know truth anymore. He has lost all bearings. He does not know trust or hope. Truth has been destroyed and all is awash in a sea of uncertainty, fear, confusion and pain.
By condoning torture, therefore, we are condoning terrorism. We are saying that any means is appropriate to achieve the ends.
“Ah. Wait!” you cry. These men were guilty of great crimes. They deserve to be locked up without trial, tortured if necessary and even killed.”
But the terrorists who flew planes into skyscrapers argued that their victims were guilty. They were guilty simply be being Americans. They were the enemy and deserved to die long, slow and painful deaths.
The point I am making is that both torture and terrorism lower humanity to a barbarism in which there is no truth but lies, no persuasion except the persuasion of fear, no law but the law of force, no sanity but the insanity of mindless terror and no rationale but the visceral rationale of wild, screaming absurdity.
Torture therefore is on the same level of the terrorism it seeks to fight against and like that terrorism it will not ultimately triumph.