Monday, November 14, 2011

More Tortured Debate

This is what happens when acts of torture by the prior administration are not investigated and prosecuted because the current President believes that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”  This is what happens when the present government fails to establish that torture is not only immoral, but illegal, and not only ineffective, but counterproductive.  This is what happens when we fail to punish the perpetrators of torture and other human rights violations. 

In Saturday's debate, the Republican candidates for president proudly claimed -- to applause, I might add -- that they would reinstate waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques.  Herman Cain would use waterboarding  ("Pampering terrorists isn't something that we ought to do").  Michele Bachman said "“If I were president I would be willing to use waterboarding. I think it was very effective.”  Rick Santorum stammered that "we have to use . . . all enhanced interrogation techniques."  And Rick Perry, with his usual swagger said it would be a travesty to fail to "use any technique" to "extract information" that could "save our young people's lives."  And after the debate, Mitt Romney aides told CNN that he does not believe waterboarding is torture, but that he "is not going to spell out what he would employ."  Only Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman objected.

This issue should not be debatable.  But when President Obama took office he refused to allow his Justice Department to investigate, much less prosecute, those in the Bush Administration who authorized torture.  He maintained that since his Administration wouldn't condone torture we can simply move forward.  But we are not moveing forward.  The lack of a true reckoning that confirms once and for all the immorality and illegality of torture makes it far more likely that torture could again become American policy.  As the Republican Party continues to veer further rightward, it is more clear than ever that even if the Obama Administration won't sanction torture and violate human rights, there is nothing to stop the next Administration.


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