In the wake of Yet Another Torture Allegation (YATA), this time that soldiers in the 82nd Airborne were torturing Iraqis for the fun of it (and — more seriously — that senior officers refused to investigate when put on notice by a junior officer) Senator John McCain, himself a victim of vicious torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, a conservative Republican Senator with unique moral authority to speak out against this evil, and a man who so far has said remarkably little on the subject, speaks.
And pretty much all he can bring himself to say is Prisoner Abuse Hurts U.S. Image:
Sen. John McCain said Sunday that abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, alleged anew in a report and under investigation again by the Army, is hurting the nation’s image abroad.
OK, yes, he also said,
“We’ve got to make it clear to the world that American doesn’t do it. It’s not about prisoners. It’s about us,” he said.
…but if the AP is to be trusted, that’s in the context of our image, not any moral imperative.
McCain is a co-author of a bill that seeks to put greater limits on torture by our armed forces, but carefully avoids making the prohibition apply to the CIA’s world-wide torture centers, and also fails to address the CIA’s organized complicity with foreign torturers.
McCain’s near-silence on this issue is highly likely to be related to his Presidential ambitions in 2008 — ambitions that would be severely damaged by seeming to undercut a GOP president on a military issue, not to mention any hint of being “soft on terror”.
It is hard to accuse a man who obviously displayed great physical and moral courage as a young man of being a moral coward now that he’s considerably older. But there it is.
This man does not deserve to be President.
Neither, of course, does the current occupant of the White House. That man is not only presiding over this moral atrocity, but also over the conversion of the doctrine of military command responsibility into a doctrine of corporate responsibility diffusion in which executives seek personal deniability while assuring themselves that no one is to blame.
**I didn’t notice this post on torture when I posted earlier this evening … so I’m reposting the comments on here **
This is a slight digression and refers back to a post I had on DIscourse in 2004.
When the Abhu Ghraib revelations first surfaced I was inclined to believe that a minority of boneheads were behind it and I also felt a lot of the “torture” allegations were being hyped. However the recent revelations that have surfaced suggest a deeper and more prevasive problem.
It now appears that torture was used as a tool to humiliate others in a random and completely gratuitous fashion – for reasons of power and control basically. This is quite different from applying pressure to a suspect who has knowledge that within an hour a bomb will detonate in a mall killing and wounding hundreds. In such a case I would say do whatever it takes to extract information about the whereabouts of the device.
I argued on this blog earlier that American methods can’t be compared to the very real torture of regimes such as Iran, but given the apparent extent of this problem we can’t off-load responsibility by simply saying “its worse over there”.
Recently Hitchens in fact used the term “moral Chernobyl”.
When the Bush administration presumes to be an exporter of “freedom and democracy” to other countries it better make damn certain that its representitives are above this type of mass descent into moral idiocy.
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Yes, it’s a question of perceptive, and a higher standard — in part because we ourselves went out of our way to go it alone. And, since we as a nation expect more.
As to McCain, yes. ditto the likes of Sen. Graham and Warner — they talk a good game now and again on this issue, cry their tears, propose legislation, but don’t actually force the issue. If some sorts joined with another “Gang of 14” and demanded change OR ELSE (real threat to administration’s policies such as no confirmation of key military positions or whatever), than we can respect them.
But, this symbolic do nothingism just does not cut it anymore. And, please, enough with these Al Franken Dems using McCain as some great moral voice. Put up or shut up.
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