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Both Greenwald and Booman have pieces up on torture. Which is of course the subject of The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes. Both highlight the arguments FOR torture by folks who can only be classified as morally confused torture apologists, arguing that torture is necessary under certain circumstances. Booman, Greenwald and I all seem to think that War Crimes are called War Crimes for a reason, but these folks seem to be saying that War Crimes are okay under extreme conditions….such as… war.
Ignoring that the whole point of having a specific set of moral codes and treaties and laws dealing specifically with those circumstances exist, and have been violated. One is tempted to even go so fr as to call them Holocaust deniers, since it was after those terrible events that it became obvious that a clear set of laws was needed so that men in time of war were not lead into those same temptations.
The most cited excuse for torture is of course the (as far as we know) completely mythical Ticking Time Bomb Scenario. Wherein through some vast set of coincidences you have in custody someone who knows of an urgently imminent attack that will kill a theoretically unacceptable amount of hypothetical people and the only way to prevent there possible demise is to torture information out of the person who has been miraculously put in your power at just the right time. Mythical, because no one anywhere has ever pointed to a specific, verifiable situation where this far-fetched scenario has actually occurred.
Yet the torture apologists constantly harp on this scenario, ostensibly one must think, for the purpose of stretching this supposedly moral point to excuse ALL of the torture that has been done in our name.
Even though none of that torture fits the mythical scenario, and ignoring the fact that any human being tortured (as has been well documented in any serious study on torture) will tell the torturers whatever the hell they want to hear….to get the torture to stop. They will…gasp…lie or invent facts to satisfy the torturers.
But most incredibly, the torture apologists use the Ticking Time Bomb Scenario to argue against having laws and penalties for torture.
I would like to ask Mort Kondracke (the subject of Booman’s piece) one question: If you were the intelligence officer in question and could save these hypothetical thousands of lives…but had to break a law to do so and suffer the consequences of that law….if you were certain that torturing would prevent that terrible loss of life….would you NOT voluntarily suffer any and all legal consequence?
In other words…if you could save thousands of lives…but might have to go to jail for it, would you then decline to torture to get that information? Or is that hypothetical moral choice so unclear that a law to prevent the more ‘casual’ use of torture stop you from saving those lives?
That choice NEVER occurred.
But would you let the fact that others had been tried for torture in lesser circumstances dictate that moral choice for you?
That choice NEVER occurred.
And yet the Bush Administartion still developed and extensively used a huge, nearly industrial, network of secret prisons, rendition flights, and methods that are clearly and unequivocally recognized as torture. With FAR less motivation than any Ticking Time Bomb.
They should be tried and punished to the full extent of the law. And the only thing preventing that is the patently false and morally bankrupt excuses of the torture apologists.