Monday, April 20, 2009

Tortured Logic

Bush said on multiple occasions that "This government does not torture people." Aside from the fact that we found out that he intentionally lied to us (again), I am irritated that I'm now forced to listen to endless hours of torture justification on cable news. My thoughts haven't quite gelled yet, but here they are:
  • I'd support it if I thought it did more good than harm.... but I don't think the evidence has proven that to be true. And even though I don't support a program of torture, I couldn't say I'd rule it out in a ticking time bomb scenario. I am pretty certain, however, that a true ticking time bomb scenario is somewhere in statistical fantasy land while the probability of a torture program being abused (with negative results) is pretty high. To summarize: I am very comfortable supporting a no-torture policy with an exception for Jack Bauer to shoot out someone's knee cap if there's a nuclear bomb scheduled to go off in LA in 20 minutes.
  • If you waterboard someone 183 times without getting a big reveal and you think, "maybe we'll get something if we waterboard him 184 times," then you are an idiot.
  • I can't figure out why the Right is so schizophrenic on this topic. A few years ago when Abu Ghraib was in the news, the wingnut talking heads went on and on and on about how it was a) an isolated incident carried out by a few bad apples, b) more like fraternity hazing than torture, c) another symptom of Bush Derangement Syndrome because clearly St. Bush said We Do Not Torture. Now that the truth is out, they're unconcerned about being lied to and unconcerned about torture being used and instead are mad because... the truth is out. The twisting logic is really disturbing.
  • Are we really worried that now that al Qaeda knows our torture techniques they'll be able to "survive" our torture techniques? Can you really train someone to withstand 11 days of sleep deprivation without going mad? Can you really train someone to withstand having his testicles crushed? If the assumption by Joe Scarborough and Dick Cheney is that the enemy will be trained to "outlast" torture because they know it will eventually cease, does that mean we must plan to torture indefinitely (or to death) to be effective? The logic isn't working for me here.
  • Speaking of sleep deprivation, that is some wicked shit. Please stop acting like it isn't "real" torture.
  • What happened to moral high ground? I thought it was the all-important moral high ground that allowed us to invade Iraq, a sovereign nation, in part because Saddam... um... tortured people he considered to be a threat to his government (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, blah blah blah). So would conservatives now have us concede the moral high ground? Or are we saying to everyone, "watch the mouth speak about America's moral high ground while the hand behind the back executes our torture policy?" Or are we saying torture is the new moral high ground?
  • Most studies indicate that torture isn't overall effective. It's used because it seems like it should work, it's used because people are lazy, it's used because people are desperate. None of which makes it good policy. The people who support it are the same people who wanted to go to war in Iraq because they thought that would make them safer, despite the fact that if they educated themselves on the kind of pesky details you won't find on Faux news, they'd find that wasn't true, either.
  • Now that the truth is out, let's just stop doing it and move on. Those who are obsessed with prosecution must get over themselves. We've got too much going on right now to stop and sort out who did what and under what motive in the Bush regime. We were misguided, we did something we shouldn't have, now we're not. End of story.
  • Cheney cherry picking his Faux News interview with Hannity was just about as pathetic as Cheney cherry picking his torture stories. (I've always wondered -- why did that administration have so little faith in their policies that they'd only talk to people who had already proven their support for them?) The fact is that the Bush administration selectively leaked anything they thought might garner them the support of the villagers and/or discredit their critics long ago. I am highly skeptical that we averted a bunch of terrorist activity through torture but by all means, release the memos he's requesting. My recollection is that terrorist threats usually seem really HUGE when they're first reported and then quickly fizzle out as more information is obtained. Remember that Londoner who was gunned down by police in the subway a few years back? For days the news coverage raged on about how the killing was totally justified because the brown guy was a terrorist. Politicians were patting each other on the back. Questions were raised but the story was way too fun and compelling -- We killed a terrorist!!! And then details started to emerge. And then the truth was revealed -- it had just been some unlucky schmuck on the subway after all.
BTW, Cheney's recent grumblings remind me of a man who knows history will judge him harshly. No doubt he will go to the grave believing he did the right thing -- it's that way with all of history's great villains. The would-be president who could never have gotten elected as such, who instead snuck in through the back door as Bush's "mentor" veep, has a world view that's as dubious as it is dangerous. I for one am thrilled to see him fading away.

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