Sowing the wind

A fantastic op-ed piece in the NY Times a few days ago that I missed: The New York Times > Opinion >We Are All Torturers Now. It deals with mr Gonzales, who is "president" Bush's choice for Attorney General.

But what we are unlikely to hear, given the balance of votes in the Senate, are many voices making the obvious argument that with this record, Mr. Gonzales is unfit to serve as attorney general. So let me make it: Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States' fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.

I worked for Amnesty International for a few years. I did some reading on the question of torture. Critical studies, ethics papers on what cases are valid for using torture in times of crisis, etc.

The strange thing in reading about torture is that it is one of the few topics I have ever come across where every single item I read served to strengthen my understanding that I had been right to begin with. The picture just didn't move from my own exit position, it just got stronger and stronger support.

The justification arguments in the pro-torture-under-some-selected-circumstances-papers always end up being something a la "an atomic bomb is somewhere in NY city and for some odd reason, we can't scan for radiation, and we happen to know for sure that this one guy, named Mohammed, knows -for sure- where that bomb is, and how to disarm it, and we know that he'll only say it under torture, and besides we don't have time for anything else, because we know for sure that it will go off within the hour, and anyway..."

Pfft. No. This is not an episode of "24." It's people being tortured by our allies.


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