‘Trump pledge to keep Guantanamo open - for Americans, too - would meet stiff resistance’
Almost half of Americans see torture as acceptable, according to a Red Cross survey.
RT: Why is it, do you think 46 percent of Americans support torture, which is an act prohibited under international law?
Carlos Warner: I think there is a lot of misunderstanding that is going on, and especially in this political season. We saw what occurred, we had about 50 percent of the registered voters vote for President-elect Trump. There is a lot of rhetoric and a lot of talk. I think it is interesting, as his presumptive Secretary of Defense James Mattis has already said, torture doesn’t work. We know torture doesn’t work. So, to answer your question directly, it’s an education problem. It is not a knowledge problem. What we’re doing right now: educating the public and explaining why torture doesn’t work, and how it makes things worse.
RT: Do those figures suggest American propaganda and demonization of enemies works?
CW: No… we’re humans, and we treat even our enemies with dignity and respect. That is how we are. That is what makes us different than many of our enemies. So torture, there is no place in that equation. There were dark times after 9/11. There were very dark times where our country engaged in torture. And we’re still suffering because of that. It just cannot happen again. Certainly, many of our enemies are barbaric. But we are not, and that is something that the American public has to accept: we will not stoop to their level, even if they do it.
RT: For a supposed bastion of democracy, what does this say? Surely such enthusiastic endorsement of torture is at odds with 'US values'?
CW: That is absolutely right. US values: we reject torture. Anybody who’s educated, be it conservative, be it liberal, they realize that torture is bad; that it does nothing but to cause more terror, more pain, more suffering, more war. That is not who we are as a people. It is incumbent on regular citizens to investigate these issues. Know that torture does not yield any valuable intelligence, never has. The people who are in charge of intelligence in the US have said this time and time again. But once again, when you get into the rhetoric of the election cycle, you did have people - especially on Trump’s side - saying that torture is effective, and it is just not. Rational Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, and liberals agree with that statement: ‘Torture does not work!’
RT: Can we expect to see torture more widely used under Trump's presidency? He's indicated in the past that he would be willing to use it.
CW: Well, I hope not. That certainly was the rhetoric, but as I stated earlier his presumptive nominee to the Secretary of Defense has said that it is not effective. I think his quote was that in his experience a few beers and a pack of cigarettes are more effective than torture and waterboarding. Trump stated that, said that he was educated by that. But I will tell you this: if there is torture committed by our country, there will be forces inside our country that will fight against it. Not only people in my position but people on all sides realize that it’s wrong and cannot happen. Rhetoric is one thing, putting it into action is another. I hope we’re the kind of country that can learn from our mistakes instead of being doomed to repeat them.
RT: Will Guantanamo be closed any time soon?
CW: I don’t believe so. I would actually be shocked if it was closed. I think we’ll get the number down; I think the President will get the number down to maybe the low 40s by the time he leaves office in January. It is not very far away. But there will be a remainder; that at least 40 individuals who will be in Gitmo. I’ve heard nothing to indicate that he has the political will to move them to the US, or do anything else that would ensure that the nightmare – that is Gitmo – would end and not be repeated. President-elect Trump has said, hopefully in rhetoric, that he wants to fill Guantanamo again; that he wants to fill it with American citizens. There will be a stiff fight if he chooses to do that. I hope that that was just election talk, the kind of talk that might get him votes, and he realizes it is nonsense in real life.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.