The defense seems to be that harsh interrogation where there is no chance of loss of life or permanent bodily injury is not the same as the Inquisition type of torture. There is also the classic posit where the world is about to be destroyed and this person knows where the bomb is so what do you do? Situational ethics in other words.
The problem is that the persons doing this have US somewhere on their uniform or they are paid by our government which means they are acting on our behalf and no one in the comfort of their homes and their daily lives is going to agree with these activities except for those who believe the enemy deserves what it gets.
If we can fight World War II, Vietnam, Korea, etc without using torture I really don’t see why the “war on terror” should be fought any differently. Acts of brutality will always occur in the heat of the moment or as a result of fundamentally disturbed or frightened people, but that does not justify having a policy which when viewed objectively is not something people want.
I have always believed that if you are considering doing something that you would not want to disclose to the average man on the street then don’t do it. In government terms if you are about to do something which you would not want to defend at Congressional hearings, don’t do it.
Having said that what this really amounts to politically is (once again) bad things happen when elected officials (both sides of the aisle here) don’t do their job. The only people in government who can justifiably criticize what happened are those who objected publicly when it was going on. Hear the birds chirping? Kind of quiet on that front. Same thing with elected officials who voted in favor on invading Iraq criticizing the move with 20/20 hindsight.
I get sick of lame explanations like “I was misled”, “I didn’t know all the facts” or “I believed what they said.” “I was duped too.” Such moral cowardice. If any of these opportunists would start out by saying they were wrong to vote as they did or to not object when they could and then proceed to voice their opposition I might be able to support their arguments and inquiries for reform. But that is not what we are going to see.
Congress is going to conduct an Inquisition into the Bush torture policies. Like the Inquisition the only acceptable answer will be a complete, abject confession of misdoing which just like the Inquisition will merely result in a smug finding of obvious guilt. Those who continue to defend or hesitate to confess will be “grilled” for all to see.
I don’t think that President Obama wants any of this to occur and good for him. There is blame on both sides of the aisle for this although clearly the party in power at the time must shoulder the largest portion of the blame.
I hope that President Obama continues to press for transforming politics as usual. I hope he fights every day to stop this partisan crap which both sides so quickly dissolve into. President Obama I truly believe wants to run the country based upon merit meaning that what is a good idea no matter where it comes from should be pursued. What I really like and admire about President Obama is that he remains cool, calm and focused when others are foaming at the mouth like crazy rabid dogs. It will be difficult for him to speak out against some in his own party but eventually he will. If he does so, we will see the birth of a transformational leader. I think that will happen.