Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Level of Idealism

Over a beer with Zymurgian, the discussion turned to "waterboarding" and why it's wrong. I'll try not to be a naive idealist, but here goes. America used to stand for the "ideal" in human rights. By saying that our interrogation techniques are "classified", America has tacitly admitted to engaging in torture. And that tacit admission has destroyed our credibility on the international stage. While Zymurgian rightly pointed out that all wars include atrocities, in my life it was never considered that American policy would accept torture. Shrub changed all that. When our "policy" is now "classified" as far as interrogation, we have lost the moral standing to condemn the brutal practices of others.
A very stupid person at the bar said "they do worse in ...", and I tried to explain that this argument was shot down when I was a child. Simply put, "johnny did something worse" was shot down by my mother's "that doesn't change the fact that what you did was wrong".
My good friend "ducky" (yes, that is his nickname) is a Vietnam vet, who saw more shit than I can even imagine, pointed out that while atrocities occurred in Vietnam, they were considered crimes. He pointed to several cases where people who engaged in brutal acts were prosecuted.
Now we have Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib as a legacy. This is now "policy". The fact that an AG nominee won't state that "waterboarding" is illegal is a symbolic admission that we have abandoned the American ideal.
This is the tragedy of shrub. We are no longer the symbol of "idealism".
Added: The Senate confirmed Mukasy. Torture is now official policy.


gandhisxmas said...

Sounds like I missed a good conversation. I just got done watching Jim leherer's newshour and they had a segment on waterboarding. IT amazes me that the question of whether waterboarding is torture, illegal, and immoral or not is considered rational argumentation.

The pro-waterboarders cite the "ticking time bomb scenerio", a feverish absurdity that never happens except on crappy Fox dramas.

how bout this scenerio. Police in the US pick up a man they think is a serial killer, How do they know? An anonymous tip. Should Police waterboard this man to get a cofession to stop the serial killings? Will this tortured suspect tell the truth? Will he implicate innocent people to get the water out of his lungs?

So, the obvious question, should we
do away with due process in the USA to promote justice and the good?

Should the state be able to torture you to get you to admit to crimes you may have not committed?

There is a good reason we have RULE OF LAW. Civilization requries it, and the more we argue waterboarding is OK, the more we show how uncivilized our country actually is.


BadTux said...

I just don't know what has happened to this country. Back during the Vietnam War, when it was discovered that U.S. GI's had burned down a village that was thought to be a Viet Cong stronghold, rendering hundreds of civilians homeless, there was outrage. Now we destroy entire cities like Fallujah and there's... (crickets). Back then, the President had to fabricate an attack against America to get support to go to war. Now, the President just says that so-and-so might be a threat sometime, somehow, someway, and the American people happily give him the power to go to war. Back then, allegations that the U.S. might send prisoners to 3rd world countries to be tortured ("rendition") would have been treated with horror and disgust. Now, it's "ho hum!". This nation was hardly perfection during the Vietnam era, but at least we had some moral compass, requiring that the worst atrocities be denied or covered up. Now... not so much.

- Badtux the Saddened Penguin

FranIAm said...

We discuss it as if we were talking about feeding those at Gitmo one brand of beans versus another.


I got into this argument unwittingly on Wed, when I was having cable and wireless put in. I still had the old dsl up and was watching a video on my pc, about waterboarding.

The Cable Guy (who was actually quite nice) was young and happened to come into my office to set that up.

He was all in favor of it, using a "well if they do it we have to mentality."

I just did not want to argue with him.

The reality is that largely because of the US, we created some standards at Nuremberg.

It would have been very easy to "do to the Nazis what they did to others". However, that did not happen because of moral standards.

All over now.

fairlane said...

America sanctioned torture years ago when they gave Brittney Spears a Grammy.