March 23, 2008

Fighting the President's Embrace of Torture

Just prior to President Bush's veto of a bill that would have made waterboarding - a known torture technique - illegal for use by the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), Washington Monthly published a series of articles that the editors introduced as follows:
In most issues of the Washington Monthly, we favor articles that we hope will launch a debate. In this issue we seek to end one. The unifying message of the articles that follow is, simply, Stop. In the wake of September 11, the United States became a nation that practiced torture. Astonishingly - despite the repudiation of torture by experts and the revelations of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib - we remain one. As we go to press, President George W. Bush stands poised to veto a measure that would end all use of torture by the United States. His move, we suspect, will provoke only limited outcry. What once was shocking is now ordinary.
The articles accompanying this introduction are from contributing writers inhabiting the full political spectrum, from left to right, Democrat and Republican, from Bob Barr to Jimmy Carter. In light of Mr. Bush's veto, the words these authors have written might seem futile, or feeble, or even dated.

They are not.

Rather, they still call us to remember that America doesn't start wars, it ends them; that we don't turn away from the world, we lead it. And that we don't commit torture - we condemn it. While George W. Bush might be content to solidify his personal legacy as the man who embraced torture as U.S. policy, that doesn't mean we have to accept his path as our own. We cannot give up, and we must continue to press our elected representatives to reiterate explicitly that torture is both illegal and intolerable until they do. Failure on this count is simply not an option.

No more torture. No exceptions.

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