Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Yesterday’s headline news from the U.S. was utterly depressing, if not entirely unexpected. Today’s headline news from Brazil is also utterly depressing, but certainly not unexpected. Both concern official reports showing that torture was an official policy of both governments, routinely used by government officials.
The U.S. began its torture policy in 2002, shortly after 9/11 changed the way Americans thought about war. The policy was ended in 2008 by President Obama. Brazil began its torture policy around 1965, shortly after the “Revolution” installed a military dictatorship. The policy was ended around 1979 with the passage of a law granting general amnesty.
Both countries’ military organizations have, for years, mendaciously denied the existence of an official torture policy — these denials have now been buried by the truth. Both countries’ presidents now claim they will never again institute or tolerate such a policy.
In both countries, there have always been those who claim torture was necessary, using the rationalization “the end justifies the means”. In both countries, the end was to “stamp out terrorism”. In both countries, the defenders have claimed that torture was an effective means to achieving the end. In both countries, this week’s official reports show this is arrant nonsense.
Both countries have honorable public figures who expressed their indignation and sadness. Senator John McCain, who was tortured by the Vietnamese, said torture has “stained our national honor”. President Dilma Rousseff, who was tortured by Brazilians, wept while hearing the report.
The citizens of both countries should be immensely proud of both these brave people.
[Full disclosure: The Curmudgeon lived in Brazil from 1968 to 1970, when both McCain and Dilma were being tortured. He is embarrassed to admit he didn’t believe there was any significant torture being carried out in Brazil. He was horrendously wrong.]
The Curmudgeon will emit more Smidgens opportunely.