Sigh… It’s time for another U.S. Torture Policy Update.
- “Michael Scheuer, who once headed the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and left the CIA last after a 22-year career,” told the BBC that of course the U.S. is sending detainees abroad to be tortured. “The idea that this is a rogue operation that someone has dreamt up is just absurd. I personally have no problem with doing any operation as long as it’s justified legal by my superiors.” He went on: “It wouldn’t be us torturing them and I think there is a lot of Hollywood involved with our portrayal of torture in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Human rights is a very flexible concept… It depends how hypocritical you want to be on a particular day.”
- In “Selling Indulgences,” David Luban has this observation about the lawyers who made the case for torture:
[W]hat happens when the client doesn’t want candid advice? When the client says, in effect, “Give me a legal opinion saying I can do what I want to do”? Lawyers confront such requests every day — but if the lawyer does the client’s bidding, she has crossed the fatal line from adviser to accomplice. No longer an adviser or advocate, the lawyer now becomes an absolver or indulgence-seller. There is some historical precedent here — Martin Luther launched the Reformation because early-Renaissance popes were selling papal dispensations to sin along with indulgences sparing sinners the flames of hell or a few years of purgatory. Rodrigo Borgia once arranged a papal dispensation for a French count to sleep with his own sister. It was a good career move: Borgia later became Pope Alexander Ⅵ, while Jay Bybee merely ended up on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- The New Yorker remains very much on-the-case, and has released a set of correspondence between Justice Department torture policy advocate John C. Yoo and William Taft Ⅳ of the State Department, who wanted the U.S. to honor the Geneva Conventions.
- Also run over by the White House torture policy blitz were lawyers from the military, whose objections were overruled.
- “How in the world did we become a country in which gays getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?” asks Bob Herbert in The New York Times. “Any government that commits, condones, promotes or fosters torture is a malignant force in the world. And those who refuse to raise their voices against something as clearly evil as torture are enablers, if not collaborators.”
- Detainee Says He Was Tortured While in U.S. Custody — this might have been big news at one point, but now it’s just yet another example of “extraordinary rendition.”
- Meanwhile, “The U.S. Department of Justice may make legal history in seeking to dismiss a lawsuit on behalf of a U.S. citizen being held in Saudi Arabia without publicly disclosing its reasons, citing an ‘extraordinarily high’ government interest in protecting national security issues in the case.”
- Some of those vulnerable to the U.S. torture policy are youths, including Omar Khadr, who has been in U.S. custody since he was captured in Afghanistan at age 15.
- “I submit,” submits libertarian Anthony Gregory, “that, overall, and despite the ambivalence some libertarians might have toward the issue, torture is actually worse than rent control.”