From the safety and comfort of her desk in Santa Barbara, California, Lisa Hajjar concludes that "by the second anniversary of 9/11, US detention policy had become a concoction of willful ignorance and political recalcitrance dosed with a license to torture and topped off with a thick dollop of secrecy." As Americans celebrated in the streets following Osama's death, very few asked whether purely humane tactics were used to procure the necessary information and if the Navy Seals acted in a compassionate manner throughout their mission. However, the dust has settled and the mood has changed. Now that Osama is dead and the Al-Qaeda network is losing strength, many Americans are inclined to agree with Hajjar, condemning post-911 polices and practices as inhumane and disproportionate--even an overreaction. Unfortunately, Al-Qaeda's diminishing power is not the result of a collective decision to abandon practices of self-destruciton and murder in favor of more admirable goals such as tolerance and mercy. Instead, it is more likely that the uncompromising policies and practices learned post-9/11 contributed to the Al-Qaeda downfall.
My question is:
1. What exactly constitutes "torture"? Even the 2004 UN torture convention tiptoed around the meaning of the word with ambiguous and hazy definitions. Sleep deprivation, threatening, insults...are these classified as torture or simply inhumane treatment?
2. What polices and practices should be accepted in the era of asymmetrical warfare--is inhumane treatment acceptable?