Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter


Posted by MEC on July 24, 2008

In 2002, the Justice Department decreed that torture is legal because they say so. They didn’t put it quite so candidly, but that’s what the memo justifying “enhanced interrogation techniques” comes down to.

What the memo says is if a CIA interrogator said that he believed that whatever he did to a victim of interrogation wouldn’t do any lasting harm, then it wasn’t torture and therefore it was legal.

By that reasoning, theft is legal if the thief believes the victim won’t be harmed by being deprived of property or money. Rape is legal if the rapist believes the victim enjoys it. Arson is legal if the property is abandoned and therefore nobody has really lost anything. Aggravated assault is legal if the assailant believes that the victim would eventually make a full recovery from injuries inflicted. Shaking a baby until he suffers permanent brain damage or dies isn’t a crime if the adult didn’t think it would cause injury. Heck, let’s just take all crimes off the books, because all the accused criminal has to do is say, “I didn’t think anybody would be hurt.”

One of the things that makes this memo completely bogus is that it provides an alibi no matter what the interrogator’s real beliefs. If someone says, “This is what I believe” and sticks to his story and avoids saying anything to anybody that may contradict this assertion, there is no way to prove he doesn’t believe it at all. So what this Justice Department memo really told the interrogators isn’t that they have to believe they weren’t doing permanent harm, they just have to say they believe it and they can use as much violence as they want as long as they don’t leave permanent signs of it.

One of the things that makes this memo so horrific is that it denies the detainees are rational beings. The memo declares that the nature of the interrogation is defined entirely by the interrogator; the detainees’ thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with it. Any evidence a detainee can present that he suffered permanent damage is trumped by the interrogator’s insistence that he “didn’t mean to”.

I have a news flash for the Busheviks at the Justice Department and in every other part of the Executive Branch: you do not control reality. No matter how much you say you do, no matter how fervently you believe you do, when it comes down to it, reality always wins. And the reality is that torture is illegal because of what it does to the victims, not because of what the torturer may be thinking when he inflicts suffering.

Call it “enhanced interrogation” as much as you want; it’s still torture. Say that it’s legal by any tortuous justification you can come up with, it’s still a crime. It’s a crime against the laws of this country, it’s a crime against morality, it’s a crime against humanity.

This memo doesn’t protect you. It condemns you.


2 Responses to “Wrong”

  1. stogoe said

    As unhinged, irresponsible and downright despotic the Republican Party and its politicians can get, there is a frightening fraction of its base that is even more unhinged, more despotic and less intelligent. Far too many of these sorts of folks have paid editorial positions on national newspapers or their own Wingnut Welfare teats at Clownhall, WND, or NRO.

  2. anon said

    Rape is legal if the rapist believes the victim enjoys it.

    That’s pretty much par for the course as it is…

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