Vail Valley Voices: Tortured by the definition |

Vail Valley Voices: Tortured by the definition

Sal Bommarito
Vail, CO, Colorado

I’m disgusted by the thought of one human being torturing or abusing another for any reason.

It evokes bad memories from controversial movies such as “The Marathon Man,” in which the character portrayed by Sir Laurence Olivier pulled out teeth from the character represented by Dustin Hoffman as he questioned him, and the Russian roulette scene with Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter.”

Using horrific torture and other kinds of abusive techniques for any reason is immoral and should be illegal. Moreover, the benefits of torture are overrated, according to many experts, and the use of torture erodes America’s reputation as a global defender of human rights.

I don’t believe terrorists who want to kill Americans should have an easy time while being detained or incarcerated. The question is over how aggressive interrogators should be as they search for important information that may save innocent lives. Certainly waterboarding, in which prisoners are nearly drowned, and physical beatings fall outside acceptable human-rights boundaries.

But should interrogators employ other types of less invasive and harmful techniques such as sleep deprivation and continuous questioning? I think so. The risk we now face is that the backlash against torture in general is being overplayed to such an extent that America will be deprived of needed intelligence.

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

The endless demand to prosecute torturers will yield no long-term benefits. Unfortunately, interrogators were working under legal and moral protection afforded by a misguided president and his administration. These people have all retired or been replaced, and new rules forbidding obvious forms of torture have been installed. So let’s move on.

I only wish the outrage expressed toward terrorist abuse was extended to our prisons in the United States. The mistreatment in these institutions is just as disgraceful as the torture at Gitmo and has taken place for decades, if not centuries. But our elected officials don’t seem to believe the political payoff is great enough to warrant any in-depth investigation.

Sal Bommarito is a New Yorker who has skied Vail for 20 years. He will periodically report on national issues that affect Vailites. A former investment banker, he recently published four novels.

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