Douchebag of the Day
Richard Cohen just can’t figure this torture thing out. He’s worred about Ishmael, a terrorist he dreamed up:
Now he is in American custody. What will happen? How do we get him to reveal his group’s plans and the names of his colleagues? It will be hard. It will, in fact, be harder than it used to be. He can no longer be waterboarded. He knows this. He cannot be deprived of more than a set amount of sleep. He cannot be beaten or thrown up against even a soft wall. He cannot be threatened with shooting or even frightened by the prospect of an electric drill. Nothing really can be threatened against his relatives — that they will be killed or sexually abused.
Don’t you hate it when you can’t threaten to fuck a detainee’s grandmother?
He knows the new restrictions. He knows the new limits. He may even suggest to his interrogators that their jobs are on the line — that the Justice Department is looking over their shoulders. The tape is running. Everything is being recorded. He is willing to give up his life. Are his interrogators willing to give up their careers? He laughs.
Yes, our interrogators will shit their pants and flee the room when a detainee laughs at them.
This business of what constitutes torture is a complicated matter. It is further complicated by questions about its efficacy: Does it sometimes work? Does it never work? Is it always immoral?
No, yes, and yes.
No one can possibly believe that America is now safer because of the new restrictions on enhanced interrogation and the subsequent appointment of a special prosecutor. The captured terrorist of my fertile imagination, assuming he had access to an Internet cafe, knows about the special prosecutor. He knows his interrogator is under scrutiny. What person under those circumstances is going to spill his beans?
No one? Fuck me.
I am torn between my desire for absolute security and my abhorrence of torture. The one thing I know is that ideology does not provide an answer. For me, it settles nothing that Dick Cheney supported enhanced interrogation and that Cheney was wrong and deceitful on the war. It settles nothing that Cheney defined torture as something so extreme that almost anything less than, say, the rack is permissible interrogation. The issue is not Cheney. The issue is the issue.
I don’t know about you, but if a former vice president committed war crimes, I think that’s an issue. And Cohen’s desire for “absolute security” is a shibboleth. It is meaningless, empty, and facile. It is the heighth of intellectual dishonesty.
I left the following comment, but I doubt Mr. Cohen will get it, or even read it:
That this sort of thinking is tolerated in this society is damning. Torture is illegal – Saint Ronnie signed a bill that said so, and multiple treaties say so. It doesn’t work – a guy present at KSM’s interrogation said so (hearing w/ Sheldon Whitehouse). We are better than this, or so I thought. Mr. Cohen, you are an insulated and sick little man, and your medieval views are disgusting. You need to address this.
Our discourse is a disgrace.