Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dennis Prager and Torture

Dennis Prager's latest article takes on the torture question, and he asks nine questions of liberals who want to see further investigations into the torture. He concludes his article with this chilling pronouncement.
If you do not address these questions, it would appear that you care less about morality and torture than about vengeance against the Bush administration.
Oh my. Well, I'd better answer these questions then.
Given how much you rightly hate torture, why did you oppose the removal of Saddam Hussein . . .
We opposed the invasion of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein. We saw, correctly, that invading Iraq would be a lot more expensive and difficult than the Bush Administration pretended at the time. Legitimately it could and did make things worse for the Iraqis.

Also the abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere were our responsibility; what Saddam did, as awful as it was, wasn't.
Are all forms of painful pressure equally morally objectionable? In other words, are you willing to acknowledge that there are gradations of torture as, for example, there are gradations of burns, with a third-degree burn considerably more injurious and painful than a first-degree burn? Or is all painful treatment to be considered torture? Just as you, correctly, ask proponents of waterboarding where they draw their line, you, too, must explain where you draw your line.
For the record, burning a suspect, whether you give him a first or a third degree burn is still torture. By the same token actually drowning someone would be worse that simulating torture through waterboarding. That's not the point. The point is that we are inflicting pain - and that is torture.
Is any maltreatment of anyone at any time -- even a high-level terrorist with knowledge that would likely save innocents’ lives -- wrong?
Inflicting pain is not the same as maltreatment - this question goes on to bring up the would you torture Osama question. I would oppose torturing Osama bin Ladin.
If lawyers will be prosecuted for giving legal advice to an administration that you consider immoral and illegal, do you concede that this might inhibit lawyers in the future from giving unpopular but sincerely argued advice to the government in any sensitive area?
If a lawyer advises an administration to break the law, as it seems they did in this case, well, than they should be held responsible for their bad advice. Now it might be an honest mistake; perhaps those involved genuinely believe we lived in a dictatorship where the President's word is law. In that case, I'd be fine with an insanity plea.
Presumably you would acknowledge that the release of the classified reports on the handling of high-level, post-Sept. 11 terror suspects would inflame passions in many parts of the Muslim world. If innocents were murdered because nonviolent cartoons of Muhammad were published in a Danish newspaper, presumably far more innocents will be tortured and murdered with the release of these reports and photos. Do you accept any moral responsibility for any ensuing violence against American and other civilians?
OK, so you are saying the release of these pictures will cause violence, and it's our fault? Not the fact that torture happened, but the fact that we revealed it? Well I still think you tell the truth.
If, then, the intelligence community has been adversely affected, do you believe it can still do the work necessary to protect tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people from death and maiming?
I believe the damage was done by the Bush Administrations decision to torture, not by the revelations now necessitated by that torture.
Will you seek to prosecute members of Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who were made aware of the waterboarding of high-level suspects and voiced no objections?
If this is accurate, than yes, I would support it.
Would you agree to releasing the photos of the treatment of Islamic terrorists only if accompanied by photos of what their terror has done to thousands of innocent people around the world?
IN other words, make the case to the rest of the world that "Yeah we tortured, but Osama Bin Ladin has done a lot worse?" I'm not sure that is a winning strategy. For one thing, I think people hold the United States to a somewhat higher standard than Osama Bin Ladin.
You say that America’s treatment of terror suspects will cause terrorists to treat their captives, especially Americans, more cruelly. On what grounds do you assert this? . . . Do you think that evil people care how morally pure America is?
This is moderately funny because just a few points ago you asserted that releasing these pictures would cause riots we should feel guilty about. If there are evil people who want to riot, won't they riot anyway, pictures or no pictures?

But in response to the argument the war in terror isn't happening in a vacuum. There might be other military conflicts we find ourselves drawn into, in which case our decisions in torture might come back to hurt us. But even if releasing that information doesn't help in that regard it would still be the right thing to do. What we did, as a nation, under President Bush was both legally and morally wrong, and we need to take responsibility for our actions. And that's the bottom line.

No comments: