When is torture justified? Never.

Roger Cohen, in today's Washington Post, muses, "Yet I have to wonder whether what he [Cheney] is saying now is the truth -- i.e., torture works."

"works"? "works"? The ethical calculus here is completely screwed up. First of all, even if Cheney could prove the torture saved lives (a doubtful proposition), he can't know that the torture will not set a precedent that enemies may use it against our soldiers in the future, or know how many terrorists were ginned-up using accounts of torture, so the simple one-to-one math is impossible. Secondly, even if Cheney calculates that torture is worth it, part of that calculation must include jail time for the breaking of the law. If it was really worth it, and Cheney really believes that, he should be willing to do the time, or at least try to make his case to a jury rather than Bob Scheiffer. If he's not willing to go to jail, then he doesn't really think it was worth it.

Even if Cheney were principled enough to turn himself in for violations of US law and for war crimes, he'd still be wrong. Torture is never justified, even if it seems to work. I wonder if Cheney wants to start an international race to the bottom of the depths of our humanity because he knows he already has a head start.

Pelosi and Torture

The Washington Post reports that a newly released memo indicates that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002. Now, some on the right and left will say this explains the Obama administration's hesitance to prosecute the writers of those memos. That may be the case. I hope, instead, it serves as an impetus to get the ball rolling on prosecutions for all the people responsible. After all, it's a win-win for the administration; it gets to uphold the principle that torture is unacceptable by holding those responsible accountable (something I've argued for before), it could show the country that this isn't a political witch-hunt but a principled stance, and it gets to remove Pelosi. Let's face it, she's a liability to the President and the party. Ignoring her heavy-handed mismanagement of Obama's first attempt at reaching across the aisle to bail out the financial system, she's from San Francisco. If she goes, the party could find leadership from somewhere that doesn't scream lefty-pinko-commie, while retaining the seat (it's more likely to go to a Green than a Republican, if I'm not mistaken). If she knew about the torture, she should go down because it's the right thing to do. If it's the right thing to do, that principle should cross party lines. Herbert Hoover said "Honor is not the exclusive property of any political party," and he was right, but dishonor isn't either, and torture shames us all. The fact that dealing with this dishonor is also politically expedient for the Obama administration is just icing on the cake.

Bravo, Dan Froomkin!

Dan Froomkin, in his piece "Krauthammer's Asterisks", takes on Charles Krauthammer, his colleague at the Washington Post and a grade A hole. After Krauthammer argues that torture is "impermissible evil" that should only be undertaken in two circumstances (when we think we need to, and when we feel like it), Froomkin takes his claims apart one at a time and shows Krauthammer for what he really is: a sociopath apologist for torture. Thanks Mr. Froomkin!