Torture

TORTURE….This has already been much linked, but Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece on the apparently routine U.S. use of torture ? either directly or by “rendering” suspects to countries that will do it for us ? is well worth reading. There’s a lot to say about it, but here’s a paragraph that caught my eye. It’s about John Yoo, the lawyer responsible for several of the memos justifying torture as an instrument of state:

As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn?t have the power to ?tie the President?s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.? He continued, ?It?s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can?t prevent the President from ordering torture.?

It’s the “core” ? the core ? of the commander-in-chief function, to be used at his sole discretion whenever he feels like it. The founders, apparently, valued it so highly that no one, not even Congress, can restrict its use. God help us.

On a different note, I generally avoid the argument that torture is ineffective, because that’s not why I oppose it. I oppose it because it’s wrong, and that wouldn’t change regardless of whether or not it worked.

But it’s a worthwhile question anyway: does torture work? Mayer does a fairly good job of demonstrating that the answer is probably no. It’s not conclusive since no one from the CIA is willing to talk about this stuff, but the FBI sure seems to be convinced it’s worthless.

UPDATE: Sebastian Holsclaw has about the same reaction as me, and wonders why his fellow Republicans aren’t saying more about it. “We don’t need to wait for the Democrats to raise this issue….We are the party which leads the most powerful country in the world. And lead it we must. President Bush must be shown that the Republican Party is not willing to stand for the perversion of our moral standards.”

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