Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who We Are

As more information about the justification for and application of "enhanced interrogation techniques", most commonly known as forms of torture, is released, we are being told that the agents who applied said techniques will not be prosecuted. And now Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama's Chief of Staff, is saying that those who devised policy should not be prosecuted either.

This is profoundly disturbing for a nation of laws. We are bound by our own law and international law to prosecute persons who inflicted, legally justified or authorized torture. This is not something we have a choice about, at least not justifiably.

Imagine the outrage at photos of naked Americans stacked in pyramids, or crawling on the floor led by a leash, or being water boarded. The cries of retribution, revenge and justice would be deafening. Our political leaders would cry havoc and release the dogs of war. And we would patriotically justify it by pointing at the severity of these provocative, humiliating, despicable and abhorrent acts against humanity. How dare they!

Indeed. How dare we.

Nearly four years ago Senator John McCain, a torture victim himself, said: (I added the bolding)

"We are Americans, and we hold ourselves to humane standards of treatment of people no matter how evil or terrible they may be. To do otherwise undermines our security, but it also undermines our greatness as a nation. We are not simply any other country. We stand for something more in the world — a moral mission, one of freedom and democracy and human rights at home and abroad. We are better than these terrorists, and we will we win. The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don’t deserve our sympathy. But this isn’t about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies."

I guess we'll see about that.

No comments: