As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

They're Reframing Torture

Greg Sargent is right - the media has managed to find a "he said, she said" entryway into the torture debate by focusing on the irrelevant data point of whether or not torture works. It doesn't - ask Bush's FBI Director - but turning this into a debate humanizes the tactic, turning it into some option that's open to reasonable disagreement instead of a universally rejected, illegal action. We don't have a debate over whether stealing from rich investors through a Ponzi scheme "worked." It's illegal and that's the end of the story. Here's Sargent:

This is precisely what Cheney and other Bushies want the debate to be about: Whether torture has stopped terror attacks, as opposed to whether it’s moral, or detrimental to America’s global image, or a boon to Al Qaeda recruitment, or whether the architects of the policy broke the law and should be prosecuted.

The Bushies want this question — “did torture stave off terror attacks and save lives?” — hovering in the air. There’s plenty of evidence that torture hasn’t worked at all and has done more harm than good. Even some former Bush administration officials have conceded it hasn’t done anything to stop terror attacks.

But it’s easy for the Cheney camp to muddy the waters and turn this into a matter of debate by citing unspecified classified info that supposedly supports the claim that it has saved lives — info that we’ll never see. Having the debate focused this way also lays the groundwork for the Cheney camp to say “I told you so” in the event of another terror attack.

And not only do sadists like Bill O'Reilly enable this misdirected debate, but useful idiots like Andrea Mitchell.

The law never asks if what the lawbreakers have done "worked." The law follows the law to its conclusion. A debate about the efficacy of torturing human beings debases everyone who participates in it. It mainstreams these vile actions. Eric Holder has this exactly right.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that he would "follow the law" as he weighed potential prosecutions of Bush administration officials who authorized controversial harsh interrogation techniques [...]

"We are going to follow the evidence, follow the law and take that where it leads. No one is above the law," Holder said at an Earth Day event.

...I can't believe I'm saying this, but what Shepard Smith said.

On's online show The Strategy Room, Smith took his opposition to a whole other level. "We are America!" he shouted, slamming his hand on the table. "I don't give a rat's ass if it helps. We are AMERICA! We do not fucking torture!!"

...I should add that the NYT also ran a powerful op-ed today from Ali Soufan, an FBI special agent who interrogated Abu Zubaydah before the CIA decided to take the gloves off, who avers that "there was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics." I still say it's a false debate.

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