The debate on “torture” as some call it, or “enhanced interrogation”, the name others give it, has centered on a few key points: What constitutes “torture”? Should those who okay the procedures be put on trial as war criminals? And does “torture” even work in preventing impending terrorist acts?
For those on the Left, waterboarding is torture, plain and simple. But if convincing a terrorist he’s about to drown, when in fact he isn’t – and when this “torture” leaves no lasting physical damage – what name should we give the act of sticking a hot poker in somebody’s eye to extract information? Torture doesn’t seem quite strong enough.
Then there are the lesser issues, like sleep deprivation and using insects to frighten terrorist detainees with phobias. These procedures may or may not constitute actual torture, but they certainly amount to brutal treatment, as far as many on the Left are concerned. And they would like to see anyone involved in allowing these procedures be punished for their “crimes.” And let’s be clear: “anyone” to anyone on the Left includes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
For now, let’s leave aside what methods constitute torture. Let’s also leave aside the questions of crime and punishment. And let’s finally put off in a corner the overarching question of whether torture works. Instead let’s raise another question: What if torture, or enhanced interrogations, really is effective? What if it waterboarding a terrorist with important information about an imminent terrorist act really does save American lives. Is the use of “torture” then ok?
Die-hard liberals say No! They say the ends never justify the means. And most important, they argue, using such methods harms us too – in that it violates “American values.”
“American values” has become the Left’s mantra. They repeat it over and over again to make the point that we should never stoop to the level of the bad guys – a most unserious point if you give it even a little thought. Is waterboarding anything like what the bad guys do to Americans they capture? Is waterboarding in the same moral galaxy as decapitation?
But what I can’t figure out is what American value is upheld by allowing thousands of innocent Americans to die, the result of a terrorist bomb, when the tragedy could have been avoided – by “torture”? This is a question the Left is never compelled to answer. Journalists, by and large, don’t raise the question because like others on the Left they also think waterboarding is torture and that “torture” is immoral, all the time, no matter what the circumstances.
Liberals see themselves as the moral ones in this argument. The ones who would not violate sacred “American values.” But if liberals really think it’s more important to protect “American values” than it is to save those lives, let them say so – out loud. You may hear the ACLU say it, but don’t hold your breath waiting for President Obama, or any other politician to be so straightforward. Politically, the argument is a great big loser. And they all know it.
The Left is against torture 100 percent of the time. I’m against it 99 percent of the time. I’m against it to punish jay-walkers. I’m against it to punish litterbugs. The fact is, I’m against it to punish anybody, even the most vile, hate-filled terrorists. Torture, if that’s what it is, should never be used as punishment.
But if the use of enhanced interrogation against a terrorist would prevent the bomb from going off and in the process save thousands of innocent lives, I’m all for it. And I suspect a majority of Americans are, too. In fact, to allow fellow Americans to die needlessly – in the name of “American values” is what is truly immoral. To allow Americans to die when they don’t have to is the real violation of “American values.”
The Left can spot conservative “immorality” a mile away. Let them defend – or try to — their own immorality.