Monday, January 04, 2010

Nothing "conservative" about torture

Andrew Sullivan tirelessly explains Morality 101:
The Christian distinction Thiessen and Cheney reject - and the core of the heresy they embrace - is that between self-defense and cruelty. Because they believe that the US is inherently good and its enemies inherently evil, they cannot conceive that they themselves are just as capable of evil as al Qaeda. But you are, Dick, you are. Yes: calm, old, unruffled old Cheney - just as prone to absolute evil as Osama bin Laden or me or anyone mortal. It is not conservative to believe that human nature has changed just because you now have power. It is not conservative to believe that the threat you are grappling with is somehow uniquely different from every other threat ever made against a free people and therefore merits the secret but irrevocable trashing of ancient norms of morality and central pillars of a just war. That's as radical as it gets.
If torture were such a wonderful way of obtaining information, the police would use it legally and routinely; the courts would use it at trials. Indeed, that is how it used to be. When Frederick the Great abolished judicial torture, his judges were aghast: how are we going to get confessions? they protested.

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