Thursday, December 08, 2005

Essential Readings on the Issue of Torture

The issue of torture in the war on terror goes to the heart of what we are as a nation. Andrew Sullivan has just published what I would recommend as a right-on analysis, in response to Charles Krauthammer's Weekly Standard piece recommending that we codify the endorsement of torture in certain cases.

Sullivan is respectful of Krauthammer's closely reasoned arguments (although Krauthammer has always reminded me of Uncle Charlie in Hitchcock's
Shadow of a Doubt, a man who thinks a world is a foul sty and is a perpetual apologist for almost any violence or injustice as long as it's done by his kind of guys), but comes to a very different conclusion. Sullivan understands that in an extreme situation (the favorite hypothetical is the "ticking bomb" scenario, where a terrorist suspect knows the location of a device set to kill thousands of people), torture might be deployed, but the transgression cannot - and should not - be indemnified.

"In order to retain fundamental American values," concludes Sullivan, "we have to banish from the United States the totalitarian impulse that is integral to every act of torture. We have to ensure that the virus of tyranny is never given an opening to infect the Constitution and replicate into something that corrupts as deeply as it wounds." I think Sullivan's analysis may be one of the most important documents of this decade. But judge for yourself, Krauthammer here, and Sullivan here.

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