On the record: I want torture prosecutions

Posted in Politics at 7:41 am by ducky

A few days ago, I read something somewhere about how disappointing it was that there wasn’t more hue and cry about the recent release of the torture memos.  (Sorry, my computer died and I was somewhat off the air for a few days, so don’t have a citation.)

Initially, I wasn’t going to blog about the release of the memos, but I feel I have to go on the record.  I feel I have to say something in order to be counted, to make the “torture bad” side of the argument one voice stronger.

Initially, I wasn’t going to blog because I didn’t think any more needed to be said.  I’ve already discussed why I think torture is a bad idea.  (Never mind discussions about it being morally wrong, it’s still just flat a bad idea.)  The things that I said — that I thought it was impossible to keep our torturing a secret, impossible to only torture guilty people, and that torture gave faulty information — proved true well before the memos were released.

I was angry and saddened at my country’s cavalier treatment of our military prisoners even before the memos were released.  I had already seen routine torture at Abu Ghraib, and it was already known that we had waterboarded some prisoners.  To hear that we waterboarded one guy 183 times was appalling, but I was already appalled that we did it at all.  The difference between someone who knocks over 90 year-olds for fun and one who doesn’t is far starker than one who knocks over three seniors over versus one who knocks over 183.

I was already angry and saddened at how many of my fellow citizens thought torture was a hunky-dory method; just one more tool in the toolchest for waging war.  To hear that Peggy Noonan thought we should not have released the memos — that we should just avert our eyes and walk on by was jaw-dropping, but my jaw has been on the floor for a long time.

The only thing that has changed is my attitude towards prosecution.  I had gone along with the argument that we shouldn’t spend political capital on dragging something along that would devolve into partisan bickering.  After seeing how stunningly in denial the Right-Wing is about torture being illegal, immoral, and ineffective, I now think we have to prosecute.  If we don’t — if we continue to let a large portion of the country think that torture is okay — then we will torture again.

This is not about retribution.  This is not about vengence.  This is not even about justice.  This is about prevention.  This is about deterrence.  This is about making sure that my country never goes down that slippery slope again.

1 Comment

  1. Tamfang said,

    December 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Speaking of prevention, I have one Democratic friend who consistently says it would be bad policy to prosecute a former President or his cronies because, whenever such a person in future has reason to think he’s likely to be prosecuted when the term expires, he’ll have incentive to use extreme means to prevent such an expiration. (I imagine that my friend’s position has limits, but haven’t caught him stating any.)