Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Torture Never Stops

By Cernig

Alan Dershowitz - what an ass.
Marginal Democratic candidates certainly benefit from moving to the left on national security issues, but serious candidates--candidates who want to have any realistic chance of prevailing in the general election--must not allow themselves to be pushed, shoved or even nudged away from a strong commitment to national security.

...Although I am personally opposed to the use of torture, I have no doubt that any president--indeed any leader of a democratic nation--would in fact authorize some forms of torture against a captured terrorist if he believed that this was the only way of securing information necessary to prevent an imminent mass casualty attack. The only dispute is whether he would do so openly with accountability or secretly with deniability. The former seems more consistent with democratic theory, the latter with typical political hypocrisy.
He then goes on to disprove his own point:
Recently, Israeli security officials confronted a ticking-bomb situation. Several days before Yom Kippur, they received credible information that a suicide bomber was planning to blow himself up in a crowded synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish year. After a gun battle in which an Israeli soldier was killed, the commander of the terrorist cell in Nablus was captured. Interrogation led to the location of the suicide bomb in a Tel Aviv apartment. Israel denies that it uses torture and I am aware of no evidence that it did so to extract life-saving information in this case.

But what if lawful interrogation failed to uncover the whereabouts of the suicide bomber? What other forms of pressure should be employed in this situation?
But what if Alan Dershowitz realised he had just given an actual real counterexample - one where there was a ticking time-bomb and no torture seems to have been used - before going on to posit an entirely unreal "what if"? It's not logic, it's a pavement pizza. Would his brain explode as he realised just what mental farting he was committing to print in the single most well-read forum of the conservative press? This is a man who says he wants a Democrat in the White House and is the self-professed most capable legal mind of our time?

(Oh - and a quick note for Alan and every conservative who ever breathed - just because Bill Clinton says something stupid, that's no reason for Democrats to roll over and agree with him. Marching in submissive lockstep with the Decider is a Republican trait.)

Meanwhile, ABC has a report on very real, very not ticking time-bomb torture, contracted out to foreign governments by the CIA at the behest of the Bush administration. Cables from CIA personnel to Washington, recently declassified, show clearly that false confessions were wrung by Egyptian interrogators from a known Al Qaeda member by beatings and by effectively burying him alive for 17 hours. The cables were sent a year before the Bush administration began telling the world "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture."

Knowingly sending someone - even a criminal, even a terrorist - to be tortured is a crime under international and U.S. federal law. That should be the starting point for any debate, not hypothetical time-bombs. Does the U.S. wish to withdraw from those treaties - e.g. the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Torture Convention), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - and thus throw out the rule of law in favor of rogue statehood, or doesn't it?

Let's have that debate - and make sure that the nation knows which side of the line the Republicans have chosen to come down on.

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