Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American torture - what's next

Obama (praised be his name) is likely to define waterboarding as torture and pledge to follow the spirit of the Geneva convention.

So what do we do next about American torture?

Well, to get caught up with the matter, a few helpful references:
As to the last, we're not outraged because, frankly, our outrage engines have burnt out. At this point nobody would be shocked to discover that Cheney has a private dungeon full of missing people.

So we'll have to proceed without outrage. Panetta says it reasonably well (emphases mine) ...
Brad DeLong's Egregious Moderation: Leon Panetta on Torture

... According to the latest polls, two-thirds of the American public believes that torturing suspected terrorists to gain important information is justified in some circumstances. How did we transform from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers? One word: fear.

Fear is blinding, hateful, and vengeful. It makes the end justify the means. And why not? If torture can stop the next terrorist attack, the next suicide bomber, then what's wrong with a little waterboarding or electric shock?

The simple answer is the rule of law. Our Constitution defines the rules that guide our nation. It was drafted by those who looked around the world of the eighteenth century and saw persecution, torture, and other crimes against humanity and believed that America could be better than that. This new nation would recognize that every individual has an inherent right to personal dignity, to justice, to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment...
Admittedly, Panetta has rather naive view of American history, but I'll take it. Creation myths have their uses. At least he doesn't resort to the asinine tactic of including "torture doesn't work" as a reason to avoid it. That stupidity implies that if we came up with an effective way to torture then things would be simply peachy.

Next steps?

We need to support an American Truth Commission. We need to support international efforts to prosecute Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice. At the least they can be denied the comforts of Florence. We need to get the story out, and we need to write about it even when nobody wants to read about it.

Even with all the outrage worn out, we keep plodding along.

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