Monday, June 07, 2004

bush above the law?

Josh Marshall's take on a WSJ article (subscription only): Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: June 06, 2004 - June 12, 2004 Archives

It's crap like this that makes me feel that voting this administration out of office is just not good enough. There needs to be a much stronger repudiation--impeachment, prosecution, whatever it takes to get it through these people's heads that we don't want to be a nation that condones torture--and we really aren't interested in being a hypocritical nation that has one set of rules for itself while using its power to shove another set down the world's throat.

Josh does a nice job analyzing the historical and constitutional aspects of the issue. I take a more visceral approach. Like this:

"The draft report, which exceeds 100 pages, deals with a range of legal issues related to interrogations, offering definitions of the degree of pain or psychological manipulation that could be considered lawful. But at its core is an exceptional argument that because nothing is more important than "obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens," normal strictures on torture might not apply.

It is exactly this kind of despicable justification that the Geneva convention addressed. Because every country in the world could and would make this argument to justify all manner of atrocities. Protecting the citizenry was the justification for WWII Japanese internment; it was also the Nazi justification for the Holocaust, as well as Germany's invasions of Europe.

I'd like to say more about torture, but I haven't worked it all out in my mind yet. It's tied up in being liberal and also steeped in the basic Christian view of reality I grew up with--the idea that some things are more important than personal protection. That compromising those values is never justified even if the end result is that the bad guys kill you, and your family, and other people depending on you. Because, in the end, it doesn't come down to who's alive and who's dead, but rather what kind of person you were and how you lived your life.

I want to think about this more. But I want to clarify that bringing religion into this topic is not about calling conservatives "hypocrites". It's really about the fact that there is liberalism and conservatism in religion as well as politics. And the fact that, given something like 90% of all Americans believe in some sort of god and 82% identify their religious preference as Christian, left leaning moderates and liberals must overwhelmingly support some core Christian values.