Cheney and Torture

I don’t understand why we are having this conversation as a nation.

Although I’m not given to quoting Scripture, it seems appropriate to ask the rhetorical question that Christ asked the Devil during his temptation in the wilderness: “What does it profit a man to gain the world, if he loses his soul?”

It’s the only question worth asking in this entire debate over torture.

Mr. Cheney wants to talk about efficacy – does torture work? We know that it doesn’t, or they would never have banned its use after the Inquisitions and civil trials in the sixteenth century. Those folk had plenty of experience with torture, even a semi-professional class of expert torturers, as well as a view of the world that made torture in this life an acceptable cost of salvation in the next. In the end these experts concluded that the only thing torture reliably produces is confessions – confessions to anything and everything: black masses, witchcraft, sodomy, plots against the Pope, plots against one’s own mother.

But even if torture were effective at eliciting “useful intelligence,” we still have Christ’s question to the Devil.

What does it mean to safeguard a United States of America that enshrines in its law the worst, most inhuman crimes of the last century? What does it mean to defend a nation that has thrown away its soul?

If we accept torture as policy, we become Nazis. It’s really that simple.

When we are told that the only defense against terrorism is to cease to be a nation under constitution and law, and instead become torturers of anyone we suspect is an enemy of the state, the proper response is to fire the problem solvers and hire new ones. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what we did in 2008.

So why are we still having this conversation?

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