We also have one party that's against torture, which is the Democratic Party.
This is ridiculous. I can't believe that we have people who are gung-ho on torture. I guess it's been too long since World War II and the horror of the Nazi and Japanese death camps. Someone needs to remind the Republicans of what torture is and why it's immoral.
The stranger part is that there's a partisan divide. It seems as though most people just follow their party's line. Do devout religious people who are Republicans support torture? I suppose some do, if Sarah Palin is to be believed.
Jonathan Bernstein, one of my favorite bloggers, is deeply worried about this partisan divide. He's afraid the GOP will permanently become the 'torture' party. Whenever a GOP president is in the White House, he'll issue an executive order allowing torture just like all GOP presidents have issued changes on birth control and abortion in US-funded foreign aid programs. So a change of party will bring back the torture protocols or suspend them, just like changing the curtains in a house.
I hope JB is wrong, and that the next GOP president doesn't do that. After all, we've managed without torture for 6 years now, so maybe we won't need to torture under the next president either. But I'm worried. Very few Republicans have joined John McCain in denouncing torture. Instead, they've lined up to denounce Democrats for being unAmerican in talking about it. Their argument seems to be:
- It's not torture. It's perfectly legal 'enhanced interrogation.'
- Talking about it exposes the US to unfair and untrue charges that hurt our reputation.
- How dare you care about terrorists more than our soldiers and citizens who might be targeted by foreigners who are angry about this.
- We have to do this, but we also have to keep it quiet.
- Correction. Republicans can talk about it proudly, but dissenters have to keep quiet.
Extras. So many. Background article on the torture report by the Senate committee headed by Dianne Feinstein. The irony of Dick Cheney saying that the torture report is deeply flawed because the committee didn't interview CIA operatives. The irony is that the architect of this repugnant policy would claim a report is deeply flawed.
Jonathan Chait (excellent writer, generally good arguments) reams the GOP for their hypocrisy on evil. An examination of a flaw in the report--of course the president knew about the torture. The strategy of torture-defenders. John Brennan, current head of the CIA, not denying pretty much everything in the report--watch the whole video. Yep, the CIA
WaPo on the importance of keeping a taboo on torture. Oops, this wasn't an anomaly: our history of being torture instructors to Latin America. A convincing article against torture in The Economist that I read years ago but still remember. An even better quote from another article:
"The most relevant case is Israel, where the ticking-bomb rationale has been used to justify the 'physical coercion'... This practice has never been explicitly legalised, but received something close to legal sanction after a commission headed by a former [Israeli] Supreme Court justice recommended in 1987 that 'moderate physical pressure' in interrogations should be allowed after psychological pressure had failed. For years after that, the Israeli Supreme Court declined to take torture cases. But the abuse of Palestinian prisoners became so widespread, and so routine, that in 1999 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the coercive methods employed by Shin Bet, the security service, were illegal. Nevertheless, according to human-rights groups, the regular torture of Palestinian detainees has continued."When you start to torture, it spreads beyond the limited cases where it might be justified. This is true among the British questioning IRA suspects, among the Israelis, and among the US intelligence services. Where hasn't this happened? This was the most compelling argument I found against torture, no matter how awful the prisoner is. It seems to be a guaranteed slippery slope to practices that any moral person would find repugnant.
Update 12/20/14. Here are some conservatives who care about torture. They are also very religiously-minded. I'm glad to find them.
Update 1/29/15. The CIA knew it was going to be breaking laws against torture, and asked for immunity from prosecution. This was before the weasly torture memos.