Thursday, January 15, 2009
I was heartened to hear Eric Holder, Attorney General nominee, answer succinctly when asked by Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, if water-boarding is torture. Citing its use by the Khmer Rouge and in the Inquisition, referring to the Geneva Conventions, and recounting that the US prosecuted people who did it during the Vietnam War, he said very clearly, "yes, it is." Asked if the leader of another country could be seen as having the right to waterboard US citizens, he said very clearly, "no."
He is, of course, a damned liberal. So it may be more persuasive to some (assuming "some" are in fact persuadable) that a member of George Bush's own administration has stated unequivocally that we have tortured people.
My most prolific commenter says he's "for" torture. Okay, I admire the clarity. The problem is that Bush has always said the US "doesn't torture." How can that be? Simple: he just undefined the word. The stuff we've been doing (and I say "we" because it's been done in our name, in our democracy) isn't torture because George Bush says it isn't. Why didn't I think of that? There are so many things...
I never had a "complication" from my operations. Just enhanced outcomes.
The thing is, if George Bush -- or anyone else -- thinks torture is justified in some situations, the right thing is to say so, like a man, like, well, my commenter. Make the case. Cite examples. Debate it, in Congress. Counter the arguments of experts, one after the other, who say it not only doesn't work but produces false and unreliable information. (The typical use, historically, has been to get people to confess to crimes they DIDN'T COMMIT. The inquisition. The Hanoi Hilton. For that, it works. Just ask John McCain.)
Were my family in jeopardy from the so-called "ticking time-bomb," and were there evidence that I could force a guy to spill the beans under torture, I'd be inclined to do whatever it took. Thing is, there's never been a real "ticking time-bomb" scenario except on TV. And there are plenty of examples of lies being told to interrogators under those circumstances.
Maybe it's reasonable to have the debate. What's not reasonable, and is totally unacceptable in a democracy, is the cynical behavior of the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush axis of dweebil and their shameless Humpty Dumpty leadership.
How that man can get up there tonight and argue he's been a success is an outrage. That some buy it is why I remain unsure that even someone who really aims to be straight and mindful and inclusive can succeed. There are just too many enablers of the opposite in this country.