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11/04/2005 Archived Entry: "The big argument of the torture lovers"

THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE TORTURE always use this argument. It seems to be the only one they have. "What if you captured some big Al-Quaeda operative and you knew he held the secret to a weapon of mass destruction that you knew was going to go off any minute if you just didn't do something to stop it and ..."

Oh &^%$#ing baloney. An interrogator who was actually in a situation like that would probably use every possible method to get the information and damn the personal consequences to himself. He'd break any law and history could judge him hero or villain.

But using that almost absurdly theoretical argument to justify national policies of isolating and tormenting hundreds, maybe thousands, of hapless men dragged in off the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan -- men who may be completely innocent of any crime -- is just unspeakable. Men like John Yoo, men like Alberto Gonzales, men like George W. Bush are just slapping the veneer of education on top of sub-medieval moral values. They deny that torture is torture ("Oh now; it's just a 'stress position' or 'discomfort.'"). They advocate cruelties to others that they themselves (war criminals, one and all) would be horrified to endure. (They'd scream for their rights -- and for a lawyer -- if anyone treated them as they so eagerly wish to treat others.) And then they close their eyes when their absurdly dramatic Hollywood scenario of interrogation leads to this. And this.

(The latter link may be the best report I've ever seen/heard NPR do. It's certainly one of the most savage and heartbreaking stories, focusing on one death, one man, one act of torture among many. Even if the prisoner was what his captors claimed, he deserved a fair trial, not a brutal death.)

I'm astonished that any sophisticated, civilized nation tolerates such a foul crew leaders and aparatchiks. Torture is not what Americans do. Torture is not what America does. Not as national policy. Not as wink-wink, nod-nod. Torturers are the enemy. Who on earth can't see that?

Posted by Claire @ 08:55 AM CST

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