Friday, May 1, 2009

EXCEPTIONS TO THE BAN ON TORTURE?

In a "Justice Day" (1 May) editorial, Charles Krauthammer rightly pokes Pelosi and others for raising no protests when they were informed about the possible future use of torture, but doing so now, after the fact.

But his argument about the exceptions to the prohibition on torture and the basis for those exceptions have an absurdity all their own and of a kind which I have come to expect of conservatives and Republicans.

First, by the time Krauthammer finishes carving out his two exceptions to the prohibition on torture--the ticking time bomb exception and the high-valued prisoner exception--he leaves virtually nothing outside of the exceptions, certainly nothing meriting the treaties and laws prohibiting torture.

Second, by citing the claims of those who approved of torture or who protect the organizations which did it, Krauthammer argues the effectiveness of torture as its justification. By selecting self-interested and self-protecting officials, he ignores the varied testimony of many others, some of them in the organizations and with field experience who deny its effectiveness. On this factual question, the jury is still out, and we should not rush to judgment.

But even effectiveness is an inappropriate standard. Although Krauthammer is rightly indignant in indicting Pelosi and others, he is remarkably indifferent in ignoring law. Treaties which the United States has signed and the Senate has ratified--such treaties are the law of the land--explicitly rule out the very exceptions which he carves out.

I continue to be impressed that many conservatives and Republicans like Krauthammer ignore the law when it does not suit their convenience. I have this sneaking suspicion that many of them like the idea of torturing people--I have heard not one word of angst or regret about the practice--and scraping up some fact-free, ends-justify-the-means rationalization.

No comments:

Post a Comment