Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Torture concern has a longer half-life than expected

Now some of it was undoubtedly brought on by Nancy Pelosi's clumsy evasiveness about what she knew and when she knew it about torture techniques, and some is driven by a desire in many quarters to punish Bush administration figures, which may or may not be necessary in my view. For whatever reasons, however, the debate over torture is still alive, and I think in the long run that's good for the country. Here's my most recent column for Antiwar.com on the subject. The short-term desire to embarrass Nancy Pelosi may just drive some congressional Republicans to support a more thoroughgoing investigation into what happened and who knew.

At the same time, I'm fascinated by how many conservatives and Republicans, despite the temptation to jump on the anti-torture bandwagon now that it can be used to bash Pelosi, are eager to be seen as ongoing defenders of torture. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, many seem convinced that torture "works" in the sense that it provided reliable intelligence -- even though no specific instance that stands up to scrutiny has been offered, and you know if there was one it would have been leaked long ago. I suspect there's more than a bit of desire to punish bad guys severely verging on borderline sadism regardless of whether it is really effective at producing information or not involved here.

Have any considered whether embracing the stance of the Party of Torture is a good political move, let alone considered the moral implications?

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