Saturday, May 23, 2009


Dick Cheney in his speech the other day (May 21, 2009) at the American Enterprise Institute came out with many distortions, obfuscations and misrepresentations. Here's one:

"Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them."

First of all, Cheney identifies "American values" as "moral values." Now I support "moral values," but we critics of the Bush/Cheney torture procedures object on the basis, not merely of moral values, but primarily because of legal and constitutional values. The constitution provides that everyone be free with basic human liberties and that no one should be subject to procedures that deny due process. It is these constitutional values that condemn Cheney and his "enhanced interrogation methods" under the law. Maybe Cheney is right to say moral values do not prevent CIA thugs from waterboarding or otherwise torturing terrorist suspects, but certainly constitutional values do.

The fact is, these constitutional values based on the individual rights of all are most important when the country is under attack or when it thinks it is the target of terrorists. If not, imagine the chaos that would result if "terrorists" were seen everywhere? That's what happened in the 500 year life of the Inquisition. Pious folk saw the work of the devil everywhere. Every town had its witches, its heretics, its ungodly. And most of these unfortunates were subject to the same practices as Dick Cheney defends - trial by water, trial by fire, trial on the rack, and other cruel and reprehensible tests.

Furthermore, if waterboarding such people were legal in the case of suspected terrorists, why not ratchet up to the hot branding iron or the rack? Especially if the suspect or witness refuses to talk or to admit what we suspect. There is no end to the regime of torture. Once a little is accepted, no manner of cruelty will go unused.

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