Wednesday, April 29, 2009

About that torture thing...

Remember when President George W. Bush told the nation (repeatedly) "We do not torture"? Well, not quite. Because we certainly did.

While I was away in Scotland, the Obama administration released several memos detailing the Bush administration's approval of torture techniques when dealing with certain suspects in the war on terror.

The memos even detailed the dubious nature of the claims and speculated that, given standing tradition and extant treaties, a judiciary might very well find the legal advice faulty and the techniques illegal. (I guess there goes the "But we thought it was legal" defense.)

What's most galling, appaling, gut-wrenching, (insert your own word of utmost disgust here), about the whole thing, though, is those who are apologizing — even lionizing — these actions. Becasue, now they say, the torture worked.

Forget that there's ample evidence to dispute these claims in general and in specific instances. Any defense on a "but it worked" basis completely misses the point that torture, under U.S. and international law, is illegal. Period.

It also reveals the integrity, or lack thereof, of those who would defend torture.

These people evidently believe that our fear following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is reason enough to justify torturing prisoners. In contrast to these "paper patriots," I'd say that sacrificing your and your country's bedrock ideals because you're afraid really doesn't allow you to claim courage.

Strong people and nations stick to their principles when the chips are down. If you're willing to torture when the chips are down, then you're willing to torture all the same.

(Or, as a friend of mine said, if you'd have sex for $1 million, you're a whore, and now we're just haggling over the price.)

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