Fresh air

There has been a lot of talk on the interwebs about whether the people who authorized torture should be prosecuted or whether we should just forget the whole thing.

On conservative blogs, they talk of how torture is not only

necessary, it is moral and it is ethical. We can defend it not just on pragmatic grounds, but on moral grounds as well.

and besides, only about thirty people were tortured.

Ross Douthat (conservative blogger) suggested that, if members of the former administration really believe that torture is justified, they should welcome a full investigation because it will vindicate them and help to keep us safe in the future.

Time and again, Cheney has insisted that any gains the U.S. has made in its efforts against Al Qaeda have depended on information from “high-value” detainees like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad or Abu Zubaydah that could only be extracted through extreme measures. But so far, the evidence marshaled to support his contention has been distinctly limited – and most of the insider-ish testimony on the subject, usually filtered through the work of the administration’s critics, has tended to support the argument that torture is both morally wrong and largely ineffective. This is a high-stakes debate, to put it mildly. And if Cheney (or any of the many conservatives who share his perspective) believes what says he believes – if he thinks the future security of the United States depends on a willingness to take a consequentialist approach to, say, the waterboarding of leading terrorists – then he ought to be willing to advance a public and detailed case, before an independent commission, that the consequences were and are worth the moral costs.

Kristoff just wants a commission so we can come to some consensus and, if we agree that it was wrong, agree not to do it again.

As a nation, we’ve repeatedly trampled on individual rights during moments of national fear — the Palmer raids after World War I, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the McCarthy hearings at the dawn of the cold war. We may well do so again after the next major terror attack, particularly if it turns out to have been planned by people who were released from Guantánamo.

We’ll be better off if we come to some consensus on these issues. The Kerner commission on race and the 9/11 commission are both examples of how we as a nation used such panels to gain a better understanding of our shortcomings. Such a commission would also help heal the divisions with the rest of the world and help renew America’s reputation.

and he wants McCain to head it.

This wouldn’t be a bipartisan commission, with Democrats and Republicans offsetting each other in seething distrust. Rather, it would be nonpartisan, dominated by military and security experts.

It could be co-chaired by Brent Scowcroft and John McCain, with its conclusions written by Philip Zelikow, a former aide to Condoleezza Rice who wrote the best-selling report of the 9/11 commission.

If the three most prominent members were all Republicans, no one on the right could denounce it as a witch hunt — and its criticisms would have far more credibility.

I’m with Kristoff. We need to get this out in the open and decide whether America is the kind of country that should be torturing people.

Published by

Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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