The Party of Torture


Watching the Daily Show and Colbert last night, I felt for the first time that the plain fact of one party supporting war crimes is now on the radar screen. Most Americans don't want to discuss this, know about it, or think about it. But increasingly, the explicitly pro-torture position of the GOP will define their party. And it should define their party. The attempt to hide behind the ludicrously Orwellian term "enhanced interrogation techniques" won't work if it's properly challenged. The picture above is of an "enhanced interrogation technique". Romney's and Giuliani's position that they don't favor "torture" but would support any method necessary to extract information - like the above - is transparently absurd. The simple legal definition of torture must be thrown in their faces at every opportunity. These people do not get to define torture in a country under the rule of law. We are not in a Lewis Carroll novel. The law and our treaty obligations define torture. And its definition is clear in the UN Convention to which the U.S. is a signatory:

"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession."

Does Rudy really believe that techniques that he supports and were deployed and finessed by Stalin and Pol Pot do not fall into this category? Does he really believe that waterboarding does not qualify under this plain legal definition? If Giuliani and Romney intend to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. Convention against torture, as they declared on Tuesday night, then they must be asked to say so clearly and explicitly. If they believe that a president is above the law on these matters, then they should be forced to say so. They cannot be allowed to support violation of the rule of law and violation of international treaties on the down-low. If they want to get electoral dividends from a Republican base in love with torture, they must also face the consequences of supporting withdrawal from the U.N. treaty against torture. They must place America formally and legally on the side of countries and regimes that torture prisoners. Morally, they've already done so.