David Kirkpatrick

January 30, 2008

The US and torture

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:33 pm

This post from TPM Muckraker does a nice job of illustrating just exactly where the United States stands vis-a-vis torture.

This subject is a part of a dark period in US policy following 9/11, and will possibly stand as the true legacy of the Bush 43 regime. John Negroponte, the former Director of National Intelligence, has already gone on the record admitting we did utilize the torture technique of waterboarding.

Officially this administration refuses to acknowledge any “harsh interrogation” techniques (ostensibly to keep potential detainees in the dark about what they may face) and will not admit US state and federal law, and international law defines waterboarding as a torture technique, and a war crime. In fact some members of Germany’s Nazi party were convicted of war crimes because of waterboarding after World War II.

Andrew Sullivan over at the Daily Dish has done wonderful work keeping this subject in my thoughts and pounding how un-American this policy really is. More publicly embarrassing than the actual policy is the cheerleading from pundits on the right. Worse still, the “24”-ization of the entire debate, as though a fictional television show should ever have any part of a policy debate.

Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown was somewhat comical and pretty dumb. This is neither. This is serious. Serious for US standing in the world. Serious for our national self-respect. Serious in that we don’t let some medieval hate-filled fools turn our government into something they might recognize.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, especially when it becomes US policy in the 21st century.

It’s telling that almost all military leaders who have gone on record, and experts in interrogation, assert that torture is not effective. Not even in the hypothetical “Jack Bauer” ticking bomb scenario.

To bring this back to the current presidential race, I think the torture question is important. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will certainly oppose torture and will reinstate our following the Geneva Conventions and other accepted international standards. The Republican front-runner John McCain also opposes torture.

I think he knows a bit more about the subject than all the talking heads and politicians who rhapsodize over torture as portrayed on TV. By an actor playing a fictional character. Who succeeds in his use of torture because the script calls for success.

A harsh interrogation of how bright that argument really is (and will look a few years down the road when we collectively regain our senses) would certainly expose, shall we say, a certain level of fantastic thinking. Or maybe just stupidity.

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