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Letter: French Revolution lessons

Jonathan P. Baird’s piece on torture (Monitor Forum, Aug. 14) was a courageous article, of which we need more these days.

The police, the federal and executive wings of the government, our armies and especially intelligence agencies should not be allowed to so easily get away with the sophistical, specious arguments frequently placed forward in defense of such practices.

Thanks for continuing the dialogue.

We may as a people get upset with a nation or individuals, yet it does not at all follow that we must, should, or even can abuse, torture and kill them.

If we do, we will often be no better than the groups accused. Let us all remember we are human beings – created in God’s image – all deserving of the love and respect we show our intimate family and friends. We are all on this planet together.

Seems trite to say that, but then why does our government have these terrible practices?

We should realize, and come to accept, that unless we are watchful, there is a danger that the United States may descend into the same sort of anarchy and blood lust that characterized the French Revolution. They, too, had high ideals but ended up murdering thousands. We have to let our ideals mean something. Above all, be rational and calm rather than quick tempered and angry.

JOHN G. LEWIS

New London

Legacy Comments4

Anarchy? We are already living under the tyranny of politicians and the Left. There is no doubt about that. The government intrudes in every part of our lives from little Susie being allowed to run a lemonade stand on her lawn to sweets and bake sales no longer being allowed in schools. This country is on the verge of a cultural and civil war prompted by left wing race baiters and progressive opportunists who constantly berate our history and call for things like open borders and special rights for minorities and every special interest group under the sun. People are fed up.

In an ideal world, we would not need aggressive interrogation but intel is critical to protecting our country and citizens. Might not need as much if Cater and Clinton had not gutted our human intelligence services, with, "We don't need them - we have satellites". Since then we have been repeatedly blind-sided.

Smart interrogation works. "Aggressive interrogation" which I take to mean torture is unproductive. The victim tells the interrogator anything he believes the torturer wants to hear, less often true than made-up. The studies concluding that torture is ineffective are yet to be discredited.

Torture techniques have been known to assume that the victim will lie, and so the torture simply continues until the victim is utterly broken, no matter what he has said up to that point. Joe Navarro, one of the F.B.I.’s top experts in questioning techniques, told The New Yorker: “Only a psychopath can torture and be unaffected. You don’t want people like that in your organization. They are untrustworthy, and tend to have grotesque other problems.”

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