With the United States reopening the case of Maher Arar to determine if he was sent to Syria to be tortured, it got me thinking.
Outsourcing torture has long been an issue with American governments. Outsourcing has taken place both in the form of outsourcing the actual individuals doing the torturing, meaning using an Egyptian or an Afghani or a Syrian to do the torturing, or in the form of outsourcing the location used for the torturing, such as Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib or Hong Kong.
The presidents of the United States have long stuck by the same message: “We do not torture.” Reagan said it with his message to the Senate in 1988. Clinton ratified the UN Convention to Congress in 1994 and used similar language to Reagan, using four diplomatic reservations focused on one word: “mental.”
Yes, most American presidents and governments have continued to uphold this stance with clarity and without contention or quibbling.
President Bush has repeated it consistently throughout his tenure, often whispering under his breath the slight addition: “But we know someone who does.”
Of course, Bush knows as we all know that America is at war and must do whatever it takes to protect its citizens. That means getting the terrorists and possible terrorists and possible potential terrorists and their families and friends and physicians and mail carriers and bartenders and barbers and neighbours and teachers and priests and foot massagers as far away from American soil as humanly possible.
I think this is a mistake.
With the economy looking to be in less than ideal shape, outsourcing should be the last thing on American minds at this point and time. By pushing torture outside of America in an effort to duck regulations, American officials are making a serious mistake in protecting what could be a burgeoning job market.
With auto plant shutdowns and huge warehouses sitting empty, the potential for torture chambers and secret interrogation locations that the entire population knows about is ripe for the picking. Plus, there’s ample parking!
And most people know a retired mill worker or crane operator with a lot of free time on his or her hands. Why not dispatch some of our nation’s more industrious individuals to a new and exciting vocation in protecting American freedoms? That guy who lost three fingers in the band saw would be perfect! Just think of the intimidation someone like that could foster with a simple steely glare.
Of course, in order to domesticate torture, officials would have to consider changing the semantics. Torture does, after all, carry somewhat negative connotations even if America is at war.
Individuals working in the field could serve with titles such as “Creative Coercions Officer” or “Trendelenburg Supervisor” and save any awkward moments explaining their new vocation to family members or friends. Plus, future presidents could still stand rigidly by the concise assertion that the United States doesn’t torture without quibbling over details. Changing the terms changes the idea.
Wages and benefits would naturally be equal to or greater than most fast-food benefits, offering a skilled “Creative Coercions Officer” the opportunity to still receive some of the medical benefits those he or she coerces will receive free of charge. By opening up doors of equality, more individuals long forgotten by outdated and outmoded occupations will be renewed afresh in the job market.
Naturally for some, the addition of new jobs in the torture sector will create somewhat of a domestic stir. Pesky human rights groups may object to the United States’ protecting of its own citizens on its own soil for once, but a few hours with the Trendelenburg Supervisor should change all of that.