Sunday, May 17, 2009

On torture

I believe, after reading Christopher Hitchen's account of waterboarding (it was done with real water, not Scotch), that waterboarding is torture. I do see some of the merits raised by supporters of tough and cruel interogation, but I don't believe it works. People will say whatever it takes to get torture to stop.
As well, we need to keep a moral distance from the bad guys. Torture closes that gap. It also fouls our place in history, undermining our moral position in past wars as well as in this fight.
My old drinking buddy Mark Steyn does not agree. That's fine. Neither of us is in much of a position to do anything to anyone, nor are we prepared to soil our own hands unless we're backed into some kind of corner. But Nancy Pelosi and other senior Congressional Democrats have been in on waterboarding since the beginning. Pleading ignorance of something that everyone knew about from the beginning is dishonest. Further undermining whatever's left of the public's faith in legislators is as big a crime as waterboarding, Steyn effectively argues. Pelosi's ruthless opportunism comes from a modern political virus that is eating away at democracy. It's manifest in Stephen Harper's vicious attack ads, Brian Mulroney's pathetic attempts to explain away envelopes stuffed with thousand dollar bills, and Jean Charest's ongoing waltz with Quebec separatists.

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