Mark Danner wrote an Op Ed piece for the Washington Post entitled, If Everyone Knew, Who’s to Blame? which appeared in yesterday’s WaPo. In this opinion piece he recollects the political calculations that entered into our government’s decisions to pursue torture and fears that led the party out of power to avert its eyes from the lawlessness.
Cheney, et al. justified torture because it “protected us from further attacks.” The most poignant line from Danner’s writing is this rebuttal of that justification: “This argument, still strongly supported by a great many Americans, is deeply pernicious, for it holds that it is impossible to protect the country without breaking the law. It says that the professed principles of the United States, if genuinely adhered to, doom the country to defeat. It reduces our ideals and laws to a national decoration, to be discarded at the first sign of danger.”
The Democrats in Congress backed away from opposing “enhanced interrogations” for fear of being accused of “coddling terrorists.” Interestingly, the Democrats lack of character on this issue was rewarded by the 2006 election results.
Danner convinces me that if we are ever to have any variety of moral standing in the world again, we will need to have a reckoning on our transgressions and fears that led to our adoption of torture.