Staff editorial: Waterboarding is wrong, no matter the victim

Super Tuesday has come and gone and the race for the White House chugs on.

In the meantime, CIA Director Michael Hayden has admitted that the agency has used simulated drowning, also known as waterboarding, on three Al-Qaeda detainees. The men were originally held in secret CIA detention centers overseas, but have since been transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

Americans across the country should be filled with disgust, not necessarily because the three men may have been innocent and might not have deserved it, but because waterboarding is torture and torture symbolizes everything America should be against.

The admission by Hayden also proves the danger of the existence of secret detention centers in other countries that do not have the same respect for human rights as the U.S. claims to have.

A barrier has been broken and the next step might be torture within the U.S. If it’s OK to use waterboarding on criminals when it can save lives, the next step might be to bring the practice to the prison system here.

All human beings deserve humane treatment. There are no exceptions.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

"No one" leads one to believe that no exceptions should be made, neither war criminals nor petty thieves.

The worst part about Hayden admitting to the use of torture is that the instances he admitted to took place more than five years ago. Countless others may have been subjected to waterboarding or other forms of torture between then and now. Hayden’s statement that waterboarding has not been used on anyone other than the three men to whom he admitted should also be called into question.

In 2002, Omar Khadr was detained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan when he was 15, according to the Human Rights Watch. Khadr has told HRW that instead of being given a trial, he has been kept in solitary confinement and threatened with rape while in Guantanamo. It’s not too far of a leap to wonder if he has been tortured as well.

The U.S. should be ashamed of itself. It is hypocritical for this country to fight for freedom and democracy overseas when it’s not being practiced by our own government’s agencies.

It is not likely that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were the first or the last people to experience torture under the surveillance of the CIA. Those three men deserve to be in jail and do not deserve our pity, though they do not deserve torture. This nation can only hope the next president and vice president will not endorse such practices and will fight as hard against torture as they are about building a wall across the border.

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