'/> Uncommon Hours: It’s only torture if you think it is
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It’s only torture if you think it is

By Bob Sommer

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) was the voice of the Republicans on Matthews last evening, rationalizing once more why “enhanced interrogation” techniques belong in the repertoire of the CIA and Defense Department and attempting to paint the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the treatment of detainees as partisan, though Sen. John McCain signed off on it.

While Ensign and others, from Cheney to Hannity (with background noise by the increasingly thin chorus of wingnuts who chant whatever they say), sound both desperate and extremist, the very idea that legitimate debate about the effectiveness of torture has a place in our political discourse is the most Orwellian and mind-numbing part of the current dialogue. To debate this question legitimizes it – and the point is that there’s nothing legitimate about it. We can debate whether to spend more or less money on the economic recovery or whether to recognize Cuba, but torture is not only non-negotiable, it’s simply not part of the fabric of what we are—if what we are is to reflect in any way the ideals of our founding documents.

But you get the sense, too, when you listen to anyone from Cheney on down the food chain, that there’s something sadistic beneath all of it. Even some who oppose “enhanced interrogation” often preface their remarks with a disclaimer to the effect that they don’t care what happens to some of these people, that they’re “evil” or whatever—you know, some red meat to blunt the appearance of being soft or weak.

So far, an Army private and a corporal are doing time for torture. The funnel of justice for all of these misdeeds, from the White House through the Cabinet, the government agencies, and down through the ranks, has spit out a lowly corporal and a pregnant (at the time of her trial) private. So would Ensign et al sign off on releasing these two from prison?

Read more:

Report by the Senate Armed Services Committee: Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody
NYT: Interrogations’ Effectiveness May Prove Elusive
NYT: In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use

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