Monday, August 10, 2009

Attorney General: Torture is OK, if it's done right!

Breaking news from the LA Times: Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to investigate only those instances of torture which exceeded the official directions for torturing people.

This is worse than doing nothing.

The Justice Department is sanctioning torture by saying that it will investigate only those instances in which CIA operatives went beyond the official guidelines for torturing suspects, including children like Mohamed Jawad.

If haven't been following this issue, let me sum it up for you.

The Bush administration asked for, and received, a memo from a low-ranking Justice Department lawyer, John Yoo, which said that certain "interrogation techniques" were not torture. These include techniques which the US Government officially considers to be torture when used by other countries. These techniques are undoubtedly torture. No sane person could argue otherwise.

On the basis of this memo, the CIA tortured and killed people who were picked up during the war in Afghanistan. Many of these people are still being held today on the basis of nothing more than confessions which were elicited while they were being tortured.

Torture is against the law. It is duty of the Justice Department to uphold the law, and to prosecute crimes. Members of the government (including presidents, as those who voted to impeach Clinton are well aware), are not above the law. Government officials who authorize torture break the law, and should be investigated and tried.

This is all fairly straightforward. But what the government is doing today is saying that, because John Yoo told them that (in his opinion) this was not torture, the officials who authorized the torture get a free pass. In other words, John Yoo can write a memo which would enable the government to do anything it wants.

Want to jail all opponents of health care reform? Get John Yoo (who works for you!) to say it's ok. If he won't do it, find someone who will.

Want to assassinate certain congressional leaders who oppose you? Get John Yoo to say it's ok.

Feel like shutting down the press? Get John Yoo to say it's ok.

Tired of religious opposition? Outlaw religious gatherings and get John Yoo to say it's ok.

If this seems like a stretch, consider that the US Government, by its own admission, tortured and killed people without even pretending to give them due process of the law.

That is what the Attorney General of the United States, supposedly the world leader in practicing (and certainly in preaching) the sanctity of the rule of law, has today decided should be the official policy of the Obama administration. That the law is what the president says it is.


Why are progressive liberals the only ones outraged? Where is the voice of conservatives, who supposedly believe in the santicy of individual rights?


  1. Hey Pete, Have you been reading about Blackwater?

  2. Haven't read that yet, but I will and have been following Blackwater in general. I'll try to post something about it as soon as I have something interesting to say...

  3. Well said.

    "Torture ... is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity," and should be rejected as not "in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person." (Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

    Vatican II reaffirms that torture, like abortion, is an intrinsic evil.

    Mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit are a disgrace infecting human civilization and they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer these injustices.