01 May 2009

Greenwald: Krauthammer, for shame; and the peril to our civilization

The despicable Charles Krauthammer, in today's Washington Post:

Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. . . . The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. . . .

Some people, however, believe you never torture. Ever. They are akin to conscientious objectors who will never fight in any war under any circumstances, and for whom we correctly show respect by exempting them from war duty. But we would never make one of them Centcom commander. Private principles are fine, but you don't entrust such a person with the military decisions upon which hinges the safety of the nation. It is similarly imprudent to have a person who would abjure torture in all circumstances making national security decisions upon which depends the protection of 300 million countrymen.

I say despicable, because these opinions are despicable, in my view. This is just not an acceptable position for a person claiming to be a moral human being to take. Until the past few years, it would quite simply never have occurred to me that anyone could take such a position in a major American newspaper's opinion page.

Glenn Greenwald (salon.com) quotes this passage (the emphases are his), and then quotes the "left-wing ideologue" Ronald Reagan:

Ronald Reagan, May 20, 1988, transmitting the Convention Against Torture to the Senate for ratification:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

Convention Against Torture, signed and championed by Ronald Reagan, Article II/IV:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. . . Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law.

(Greenwald's emphases, again).

I do believe that pretty much says it all. I repeat my mantra, this time directed to Charles Krauthammer: For shame. For awful, terrible shame.

What Glenn then quotes says something really terrible about what our country has become:

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, April 29, 2009:

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified.

I truly hope that we can overcome this blight on our national soul, because if we can't, we are doomed as a civilization. I don't think this is paranoia, or exaggeration. A nation that condones this conduct, at this stage of history, will decline and fall into an abyss of tyranny, sooner or later. I feel this as a certainty, with no doubt at all.

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