Saturday, April 18, 2009

Torture My Waterboard

The New York Times posted the .pdf of the Justice Department Torture Memos from the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks, laying out chapter and verse what the CIA planned to do and did to select prisoners. What is interesting about them are the gyrations government lawyers go through to justify torture, to defend what is indefensible. The Obama's decision to release the memos is laudable, his attempt to pardon the CIA torturers before the fact of their trials lamentable. Shield torturers at home and lose the international prestige and moral authority you need to run to ground torturers from other countries.

Granted, politically, the Obama probably could not pursue a prosecution of anyone without risking violent reaction, so convinced are many people that the tortured prisoners had vital information they would have divulged no other way, and obtaining that information allowed the government to thwart new attacks on the Homeland Uber Alles...oops, that's a no-no in America. It is still acceptable to trash someone up and down as a communist, a leftist pinko coward but absolutely do not call a Nazi fruitcake a Nazi fruitcake. Call him a right leaning Republican, as if there were any other kind--or ignore the prohibitions and call him a Nazi and listen to the sound of late 20th century market capitalism deflating. Order the investigations and approve the war crimes trials of everyone through George W. Bush. That is the only way to begin to establish globally the rule of law.

The business about global terrior communications matching or exceeding pre 9/11 levels stricks me as particularly self-serving, trotted out to justify the request for and issuing of the memos. It's a bureaucratic dodge that has the added benefit of shielding the Bush from his full responsibility for the tragic fiasco of that dayl

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