Thiessen rationalizes Muslim torture

THIESSEN RATIONALIZES MUSLIM TORTURE… Just 48 hours after President Obama was inaugurated, former Bush chief speechwriter Marc Thiessen said Obama “is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.” With a record like this, it’s probably unwise to expect much in the way of reasoned, sensible political insights from this guy.

Nevertheless, despite the vitriol and the fact that his claims haven’t withstood scrutiny, Thiessen has managed to become a regular contributor to the Washington Post‘s op-ed page. Today, this former Bush speechwriter — the Post now features two — seems to argue that torturing Muslims is acceptable because they’re Muslims.

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, “as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that “Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable.” The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

Got that? When U.S. officials torture detainees, some of us may be inclined to think this is illegal and morally degrading. What we didn’t realize is that the torturers are giving the detainees a hand.

As this argument goes, we’re not torturing suspects, we’re “helping” them.

Sure, it seems that torture was often deemed unnecessary and unproductive; U.S. officials acquired more valuable information from less severe treatment; and “harsher handling produced no breakthroughs,” but that’s probably because we’re confused about the tenets of Islam.

It’s a good thing we have Marc Thiessen to offer this theological justification, isn’t it?

Update: Adam Serwer summarizes the evolution of the rationalization: “First we had ‘torture works.’ Then we had ‘they deserve it.’ Now we have ‘they need us to do it.'”