Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Torturer in Chief Confesses--Now What?

The Bushies have finally stuck their approval and use of torture in the face of the Congress, sending in the past few days the director of the CIA to testify, "yes, we did it in three cases to thwart imminent attacks"; the White House mouth to say, "president the bush approved 'enhanced interrogation techniques' in his capacity as Torturer-in-Chief, and would do so again to protect Amerika"; and the attorney-on-leash to say, "the justice department can't possibly investigate the CIA's use of waterboarding because it was legal at the time, according to a justice department ruling." The stories are everywhere;; I just happen to pick up Dan Eggen's piece in the Washington Post.

The Bushies argued that waterboarding is not torture when it is necessary to block an attack they feel, divine, or otherwise deduce from the entrails of dead terriers is imminent. Among the ways this statement is bogus on its face, although widely accepted as true: If you know that an attack is imminent you doubtless already know more than you would ever obtain from torturing someone you pick-up because you suspect the might have knowledge of the plot. It it's a good plot and he--or she--has that much knowledge of it, they must be intimately involved, in which case you have already disrupted the plot and forced alterations of which your source would be ignorant. That can include acceleration of the timeline. But these speculations are meaningless because torture is wrong in all cases, and the Bushies know it. Thus, nearly all of them--if not all--have also said more than once: "I would find it torture if it were done to me--note the lack of any qualifier, like "unless I had knowledge of an imminent attack against the United States."

They don't even believe the arguments they put forward to justify their behavior. They know that they have no moral, ethical, legal, or logical justification for their actions. Nonetheless, faced with the collapse of all their other arguments, they have trotted out this wonderful tautology from attorney-on-leash Michael B. Mukasey: waterboarding might be turture and employing it might be a violation of international treaties, but he can't investigate the government's use of turture because at the time it was being used against three al-Qaeda operatives lawyers in the Justice Department had ruled it to be legal and the Turturer-in-Chief had approved.

I'm willing to take the Bushies at their word--that they will never investigate themselves--and why should they? That means that the Congress must investigate and impeach, even while prosecutors at the Hague or human rights lawyers everywhere prepare briefs that will lead to the Bushies being charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The only other choice is to let them skate away, unindicted, unimpeached, unprosecuted. In that event the international community might has well torch--or deep six--the Geneva Conventions and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, while the Congress shreds the U.S. Constitution.

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