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Torture Is Who We Are


A country, like a person, is what it does.

Peter Beinart, Atlantic

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Torture/lead.jpg?ngfozbWitness Against Torture protesters march in front of the White House. (Elvert Barnes/Flickr)

Dec 11 2014 | Torture, declared President Obama this week, in response to the newly released Senate report on CIA interrogation, is “contrary to who we are.” Maine Senator Angus King added that, “This is not America. This is not who we are.” According to Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, “We are better than this.”

No, actually, we’re not. There’s something bizarre about responding to a 600-page document detailing systematic U.S. government torture by declaring that the real America—the one with good values—does not torture. It’s exoneration masquerading as outrage. Imagine someone beating you up and then, when confronted with the evidence, declaring that “I’m not really like that” or “that crimes%20are%20crimes%20mugshot%20button.jpgwasn’t the real me.” Your response is likely to be some variant of: “It sure as hell seemed like you when your fist was slamming into my nose.” A country, like a person, is what it does.

Peter Beinart is a contributing editor at the Atlantic and National Journal, an associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

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Revelations in Senate torture report demand prosecutions, The Center for Constitutional Rights  (CCR) 

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  • 10 appalling findings in the Senate’s torture report