Minstrel Boy lays it out just fine. I don't really need to add anything except this: I've been accused of being too pessimistic about my country when I state my belief that we have passed or are close to passing the point of No Return to the republican ideas that produced our Constitution.
I don't think so. This, more than any other facet of our ludicrous Terrorgegensitzkrieg (sounds better in the original German, eh?), lays bare to me the poverty of our supposed "freedom" and our committment to the Constitutional rights that supposedly make us what we are. If we are "debating" the use of torture we're way beyond the decline that Caesar ended crossing the Rubicon. We're the barbarians, roaring and brawling amid the ruins of the classic glories of our Republic. Even at our worst, when we were chasing Cheyenne women and children out to die in the cold or torturing Filipinos trying to free their country we admitted that we were wrong. Just that we we needed to do wrong because it was good for us. The defenders of these acts refuse to even admit the wrongness. That is below contempt.
Because at the very heart of our U.S. system is a distrust of personal motives, panic and mobocracy. The Founders were our aristocracy, after all, and they also had the bad example of the French Revolution before their eyes, with accusations and counter-accusations, imprisonment without hearing, execution without trial. They had just won the dirtiest of all kinds of wars, a civil war against their "mother country". They knew all about terror, betrayal, judicial and extrajudicial murder, and the danger of forgetting in the fear of death that there are worse things than death.The Republican scum we chose to elect eight years ago - and their Democratic enablers in Congress - and continued to preserve as our "leaders" over the intervening time have compounded torturous treason with the utmost in sad incompetence. We are a disgrace to ourselves and to the world.
They have shat the bed so thoroughly with regard to these pathetic chattels that it would almost be a mercy to put a bullet in them, provided that we could throw the corpses of their torturers, and those who issued the orders for torture, and those who lied and covered up and defended the torture in the grave with them.
I can't believe that there's even any "debate" over this. Every time I read items like this I think of the catchphrase Driftglass used to use: you can now be a good American or a good Republican.
But you cannot be both.
Update 1/27: And, pat as the Fairy Queen in the pantomime to prove my point, here's Abu Gonzales on NPR yesterday (via The Rude Pundit - amendations his):
"Most fascinating was Gonzales's reaction to AG nominee Eric Holder's simple statement that waterboarding is torture, as we have understood torture for, let's say, ever: "I think that one needs to be careful in making a blanket pronouncement like that if you don't have all the information because of the effect it may have, again, on the morale and the dedication of intelligence officials and lawyers throughout the administration. Nonetheless, the very discussion about it is extremely discouraging. And I have talked to officials, senior officials at the CIA, for example, who tell me that agents at the CIA no longer have any interest at doing anything, anything remotely controversial, for fear that they are going to be investigated and that they have to go out and hire lawyers in order to do their job. And so, it has a very discouraging effect, and the net result of all of that is that people will not be doing what they need to be doing to gain intelligence that will help us connect the dots and protect our country from another attack."Hmmm. Okay, well, then, here's a safety tip: if the idea that people investigating what you're doing makes you all depressy and sad and mopey and thinking about HIRING A FUCKING LAWYER in order to do your job and has a discouraging effect and makes you not do what you need to be doing than maybe YOU'RE DOING YOUR FUCKING JOB THE WRONG FUCKING WAY.
By, like, y'know, torturing people?
Baby Jesus On a Fucking Stick, people! How goddam hard is this?