Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Debunking a Chestnut

I have a very hard time understanding people who would defend the Bush Administration's clandestine approval of torture and its subsequent cover-up of the same. I suppose, if I wrap my mind around it enough, I can manufacture a scenario where I believe that a government that would lie about an activity it was performing would nonetheless be sincere in assessing the need, application, and efficacy of it. But I think that would take far more alcohol than I've ever consumed, or a frontal lobotomy.

One of the closest things to a cogent argument that I'd heard was the "But Lincoln suspended habeas corpus!" canard. Perhaps on the surface, that argument is on point, but on closer review, it doesn't hold water (no pun intended). To emphasize the point, I would direct you to Jonathan Zasloff's post at The Reality-Based Community. I don't want to take too much of his post here, because it should be read in its entirety, but his summary is crystal:
Had Bush and Cheney really believed that there was an emergency requiring torture, they would have 1) said so publicly; 2) taken responsibility for the decision and defended it; 3) gotten Congressional approval; and 4) limited it as much as possible.

But they couldn't have done that, because torture was never about a national security emergency. It was about proving an Iraq-Al Qaeda link for political purposes. Or establishing precedent for unilateral executive rule. Or about military dropouts and draft dodgers like Bush, Cheney, and Addington showing how tough they were. Or something.

Following Lincoln's 1861 precedent would thus have defeated the entire purpose of the torture program. And that shows us just how much these guys were a bunch of moral cretins.

No comments: