torture questions that need to be answered

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Last week, Dennis Prager suggested that there are "Nine Questions the Left Needs to Answer About Torture," but it is the apologists for Bush's torture who need to answer a few questions--and I have a few for Prager, based on the questions from his article:

1). I haven't seen a study on this, but it's my perception that most liberals opposed Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq because the country was scared into supporting it on the basis of cooked evidence. (Cf. WMD lies) If the case for removing Saddam Hussein were so strong, why wasn't it done during the first Gulf War when we had the full backing of the international community?

2). I draw the torture line with the Geneva Convention, the UN Convention Against Torture, and the US Army Intelligence and Interrogation Handbook. Why would you move any closer to outright barbarism than is absolutely necessary?

3). The hypothetical Hollywood example of "a high-level terrorist with knowledge that would likely save innocents' lives" is hardly a moral justification for torture. Why are common decency and adherence to the law the issues, rather than lawless torture?(Cf. Ronald Reagan)

4). Referring to Bush's torture enablers as lawyers "prosecuted for giving legal advice [that is] unpopular but sincerely argued" sidesteps the fact that their opinions were deliberately dishonest--even for Bushevik lawyers--and designed merely to provide legal cover. Is there any reason why impeachment and disbarment should not be on the table as their cases move forward?

5). Blaming the press for releasing the OLC memos ("classified reports [that] would inflame passions in many parts of the Muslim world") points the finger of blame in the wrong direction. Why would journalists be culpable rather than the torturers?

6). From Prager's claims that "fear [of prosecution for torture] has paralyzed agents on the ground," it is clear that he underestimates the power of morality. Gandhi, King, and Mandela didn't worry about prevailing in the face of violent injustice--why should we?

7). Prager asks if we want to "prosecute members of Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who were made aware of the waterboarding of high-level suspects and voiced no objections." First, following the legal advice of Bushies is a questionable decision. Second, this is a he-said-she-said situation; according to Politico, Pelosi's recollection differs from that of Porter Goss:

They said they had a legal opinion. They said they weren't going to use [waterboarding] and when they did they would come back to Congress to report to us on that.

Legislators' culpability is rather limited here, don't you think?

8). The photos of the torture of (accused) terrorists is evidence of criminality and relevant to ongoing legal proceedings. Would predicating their release on other actions make you feel better about the torture?

9). Prager asks "Do you think that evil people care how morally pure America is?" The obvious answer is "No," and the reason is far deeper than his mere tactical concern with terrorists. They don't care, but we must; morality is the primary qualitative difference between them and us, and throwing that away in the rush for revenge serves their interests far more than ours. Aren't a "shining city on a hill" and a torturer's dungeon fundamentally incompatible?

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 6, 2009 11:04 PM.

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