Roger Scruton has an excellent piece in the American Spectator called, "Facing Torture." I've written extensively about the issue, which has been brought back to the forefront with the renewed speculation about possible investigation and prosecutions -- something the left and its clueless terrorist rights supporting allies have been screaming for without let-up. Read the whole article, but I'll highlight a few passages.
policies that run counter to this or that UN convention are not necessarily crimes within the jurisdiction of a state, and when these policies are adopted by the organs of government after due deliberation and with sincere regard to the public interest it is only in exceptional circumstances that those who execute them could be regarded as criminal.I know that kind of opinion will come as a shock to those who have an unfounded & unwarranted mystical reverence for international law. But the national interests of the U.S. -- which include avoiding frivolous prosecutions of our past administrations over policy differences -- are far more important than any UN convention.
just about every government in the world today could be charged with crimes, and each administration could be hauled before the courts by its successor. This would lead to a breakdown of trust between the parties and the first steps toward civil warExactly. Criminal investigations of outgoing administrations by the opposition would do far more damage and set a worse precedent for the U.S. than any supposed harm caused by the policies that supposedly need to be investigated.
Scruton points out the difference in law between acceptable treatment of the guilty & the innocent, something I've written about in the past. Many torture opponents ignore the difference entirely and pretend that torturing a terrorist is somehow morally equivalent to torturing the innocent.
Some people think that utilitarian reasoning is never sufficient to override an individual right. Such people would have to conclude, not merely that we should not torture, but that we should not imprison or harshly interrogate the people captured in the course of the “war on terror.”And such people are moral absolutists who tend to live in their own little worlds where nothing unpleasant is ever justifiable. Hopefully no one with that sort of narrow extremist view will ever be in a top position of power within the U.S.
torture has been pushed to the top of the political agenda only now, when a shared sense of security makes the moral high ground safe. It is only because of the success of the war on terror that Americans can take a principled stance in opposition to it, safely expressing sentiments that, in the wake of 9/11, would have seemed as selfindulgent to liberals as they seem to conservatives today.Now that it is politically convenient, Democrats are terribly concerned about the rights of terrorists. That concern was lacking right after 9/11 for obvious reasons. But now that the threat has seemed to recede, 9/11 is safely in the past, and no other major attacks have struck the U.S., Democrats and their allies feel free to use the issue as a club against Republicans. But any responsible member of government faced with a crisis such as 9/11, whether Democrat or Republican, would probably have made many of the same decisions in an attempt to protect the country.