Monday, April 20, 2009

The Killing Field Was Ground Zero

Andrew Sullivan:
On Fox News, waterboarding someone 183 times in a month is not even close to torture, and the only bad thing in constructing and using the torture techniques devised and designed by the Gestapo, the Khmer Rouge, the Communist Chinese and Stalin was that the evidence was not kept secret. It is asserted as fact that this waterboarding saved lives, even though we have no solid evidence for that, apart from the word of those who ordered the torture.
The American people are entitled to know if the U.S. government went too far in permitting torture. But comparisons to the 20th century's most odious regimes are offensive. Does Sullivan equate their genocidal megalomania with the policies of the Bush administration, whose sin appears to have been that it became obsessed about protecting the U.S. from further attacks?

Obviously war crimes, if they occurred, could not be excused purely on the basis of good intentions. But as Sullivan notes, only those who permitted these interrogation techniques really know if they produced any useful information. Does he think they're lying? Or is it possible that they know things we don't about the threats the U.S. faced?

So I say again: We need to know what was done to terrorism suspects in our name. As part of the same inquiry, we need to know about the terrorist attacks that have been thwarted since 2001. That's the only way to find out if we learned anything valuable from the suspects. More important, if we really need further evidence that George W. Bush isn't Pol Pot, that's how we'll come to understand better the zealous mindset of leaders who promised to protect their homeland and appear to have done so.

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