The Right Vs The Geneva Conventions

Cliff May has done great work over the years advancing democracy and defending human rights. But his defense of torture when and only when America does it deeply undermines his credibility and makes a mockery of his previous work. How on earth can a man who heads up an outfit called "Foundation for Defense of Democracies," support torture? Not content with describing the torture techniques of the Communist Chinese as "enhanced interrogation techniques," May tries to distance himself from even that euphemism, coined by the Gestapo. It's now "EITs". Feel better? And the willful refusal to look at the evidence in the eye is staggering. He really believes that what Cheney authorized was "a few nights of sleep deprivation? A few weeks of boredom?" This alleged defender of human rights has obviously not bothered to find out even basic details of massive human rights abuses committed by his own government. Why on earth should anybody else take him seriously?

What he does not concede, because it might make his head explode, is that the administration he slavishly supported has made and will make torture more prevalent and more justified in every dictatorship on earth. And when these monsters are called to account, they will forever be able to say: America does it. And they will be impossible to refute. It is very hard to put a price on that loss of moral standing. But I'd say it renders the future much darker for humanity; and I'd say that someone soon will be tortured because America helped legitimize it.

I spent many years growing up in Britain and as a grad student in America debating lefties who defended the Soviets or attacked America's role in the world or made specious arguments about the moral equivalence of the USSR and USA. You had to concede some points - the US support for some very nasty characters over the years in South and Latin America, the Middle East, and so on. But there was always one argument that I could use: Americans don't torture.

They do now. Unless we prosecute, America and torture will become synonymous in the global consciousness. This is Cheney's doing; and he must be called to account.