The Torture Question, Honed to a Fine Point

A while ago, I wrote about how interesting it is to watch small pieces of information, and bite-sized opinions on a blog, coalesce into longer pieces of ‘propoer’ journalism, for wider consumption in print. I cited Andrew Sullivan as the most obvious purveyor this technique.
The issue of the Bush Administration’s morally dubious approach to the torture of detainees is something that Sullivan has been pursuing for months on The Daily Dish, collecting and documenting the various admissions, euphamisms and subtle shifts of language that the American goverment have employed when asked, or confronted. His post yesterday, juxtaposing the ordeal of John McCain in Vietnam, with the situation of current detainees caught up in the so-called war on terror, seems to me to be the culmination of months of blogging:

The torture that was deployed against McCain emerges in all the various accounts. It involved sleep deprivation, the withholding of medical treatment, stress positions, long-time standing, and beating. Sound familiar?
According to the Bush administration’s definition of torture, McCain was therefore not tortured.

How does the President answer that one? Dodging it, lying, or employing another euphamism, would simply call down a rain-storm of fact-checkers, pointing out the contradictions.
Alternatively, he could simply admit that the USA does torture. The worry here is that such an admission might actually be endorsed by a large proportion of the punditocracy, the politicians, and the public, a frightening thought. Its a can-of-worms, cat-out-of-the-bag type question. Are we ready for the answer?

2 Replies to “The Torture Question, Honed to a Fine Point”

  1. Of course we should let the proverbial cat out of the bag, Rob. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and in the cat fight against the protofascists within which we find ourselves, biting our nails like scaredy cats is not a viable option. Instead, let’s flush the critters out and be ready to chew them up and spit them out like a bit bull with a taste for blood.

  2. Of course, we shouldn’t keep quite. My worry is that if and when the admission comes, there will not be enough loud and vocal opposition. To continue your (impeccably solid) metaphor, I feel the condemnation will come from a pussy cat, not a lion.

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