Some people are against torture all the time, under all circumstances, no matter what. I’m not one of them.
Never mind, for a moment, that I don’t think water-boarding is torture. Not when a doctor is standing by to make sure no permanent damage is inflicted on the guy who knows where and when the next 9/11 is coming. Not when there are clearly established rules in place on how long the water-boarding can last, to insure the overall well-being of Mr. Ahmed al-kaboom. If convincing this guy that he’s going to drown when he’s not – under the ticking bomb scenario that would save American lives -most Americans I think will find a way to deal with their moral qualms.
But if we’re going to have a debate, it would be nice to have the kind of information we need to decide a crucial question: Does this so-called torture work? If it doesn’t, then the case is closed: We should never do it. Why would we? And the debate would be over. The Left and the Right would finally agree on something.
But we’re not there yet, are we? Tune on any cable news channel and you’ll hear the two sides make their case. By and large it’s liberals who think what they call torture is not only immoral, it’s also ineffectual, and they point to this expert or that expert who backs up their position. Conservatives, meanwhile, say, of course “enhanced interrogation” works and they point to other experts who support their position. So who’s right?
This is where President Obama can clear the air. Not long ago he made public secret CIA documents that told anyone who cared to listen what kind of techniques we used on captured terrorists. He says he did it in the name of transparency. Maybe. But he surely did it, too, because he opposed those methods, which he called torture. Airing them, he must have figured, would turn Americans against “enchanced interrogation” once and for all.
Then Dick Cheney chimed in. What about those other secret CIA memos, specifically, two of them, that Cheney says laid out just what those interrogation methods produced. Cheney was saying that what we did was not torture but if you want to call it that at least tell the American people and the world that it worked; that it produced information that saved American lives.
President Obama has seen the memos and says they’re ambiguous. Why not release them and let us decide? That would be transparent.
I suspect the president knows the memos aren’t nearly as ambiguous as he claims they are. I suspect they tell a story that he doesn’t want the world to know. I suspect they show quite clearly that “torture” did in fact foil other 9/11s and did in fact save American lives. If they didn’t, wouldn’t the transparent president have already released them?