A reader writes:
Your discussion about torture is at once thought provoking and troubling. For this conservative it used to be a "slam dunk" for me. People like Khaled Sheik Mohammed got what they deserved and I couldn't care one wit. The "Jack Bauer" method of Intel was good enough for me.
But torture policy in the hands of a faceless government bureaucrats without accountability gives me real pause. Especially incompetent bureaucracies! (Has the CIA got anything right in the last 15 years?) Your post about the death of innocent people under our government authority questioning seems no better on the face of it than those poor souls disappearing in the subterranean haunts of Tehran.
Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and many other civil liberties during the crises of the Civil War but his greatness was, I think, in the fact that he realized it was an "abnormal", reluctant and extraordinary condition to be righted when the emergency, i.e., the war was over. Cheney/Bush seem to think this is a perpetual state, a ceaseless war.
When do the extraordinary measures to extract Intel from suspects, like water boarding, end? If ever? How is it justified and/or different then the torture chambers in Falluja run by Al Qaeda? And no I don't see a moral equivalency between us and the monstrous jihadists stated but one created when horrific means are used by our government even for the best of intentions.
Or are we to become a nightmare terror society as portrayed in the Movie "Brazil" with bombs going off everywhere among placid numb people, while innocent suspects are snatched from the streets, sometimes because of a misspelling of your name on a form? When does it just become one evil pursuing another evil?
I guess you've got a point; can Hillary or Rudy recognize extraordinary measures for extraordinary times that need the most careful rigorous control in their application if they are not to warp and twist our free society into something unrecognizable?
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