It’s always interesting watching political coverage with other people. For example, my friend last night reacted with a vehement “no!” when Obama reiterated his commitment to shutting down Guantanamo Bay and ending state sanctioned torture.
Most people I know are pretty firmly on board with this proposal, but my friend has a military background and suggested it’s important we be able to torture. Never mind that torture isn’t particularly effective as a means of intelligence gathering or that the vast majority of these “enemy combatants” are either innocent or fairly harmless in the scheme of things, my friend seemed to be of the belief that sub rosa interrogations commonly take place on the front lines. If this is indeed the case — as it seems reasonable enough to believe — then the argument for perpetuating Guantanamo’s charter is made even weaker. That is, if substantiative and (and presumably) more germane interrogations occur on the battlefield, then the primary purpose of Guantanamo is symbolic. It would not surprise me to learn that this was in fact the intended goal (the putative will-bending power of symbolism underlies neoconservative foreign policy), but this further adduces the need to close Guantanamo as soon as circumstances allow.