Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Clash Over Torture

Representative Aaron Schock (R) of Illinois, appeared on Hardball and was asked about waterboarding. He made some reasonable comments about retaining torture as an option in "extreme cases," an opinion that polls seem to indicate is shared by a solid majority of Americans. But as usual, his comments made heads explode. His Democratic opponent, Deirdre "DK" Hirner,  immediately launched an attack, trotting out the same weak and illogical talking points typically deployed by anti-torture types.
"Aaron Schock's latest comments in support of the use of torture are just another in a line of reckless and ill-informed statements . . . that undermine our credibility as a nation as we lead the world in the fight against terrorism,"
Nothing he said was either reckless or ill-informed, and obviously didn't undermine anything.  
She said such action could open American forces to similar treatment.

"This is a matter of the safety and security of our men and women overseas"

This argument is repeated regularly, even though it is complete nonsense. Our minimal use of mild torture, in extreme cases against known terrorists, has no effect whatsoever on the safety and security of our soldiers, except to enhance it if we obtain good intelligence. Our enemies already utilize torture and mistreat prisoners, and will do so if they feel it necessary or desirable. We are talking about enemies that deliberately target non-combatants, including people such as aid workers and journalists. They recognize no rules of warfare, haven't signed any international treaties, and used torture long before the U.S. ever did anything to any terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo. 

"In her statement, she said that "endorsing the use of torture, like Mr. Schock did," provides fodder for enemies who "look to vilify us.""

So what? Again, these are people led by religious fanatics. The mere fact that we are infidels is more than enough reason for them to vilify us. They can only hate us so much. 

And the other Democrat in the race, Carl Ray, had this to say,

"Intelligence personnel will tell you that torture doesn't work"

It is funny how many people actually seem to believe this. The need to deny reality is strong. And of course his statement is highly misleading. Some intelligence personnel would take that position. But others, including most of the top people who directed them and had access to all classified information, say exactly the opposite -- that harsh interrogation techniques produced vital intelligence critical to U.S. national security. 

I applaud Congressman Schock for speaking out in favor of retaining the option of torture in extreme cases, and for not being afraid to employ the word "torture," rather than relying on euphemisms. Far from being "reckless," as his opponent claimed, his position is both honest and realistic. Hopefully he'll keep his seat in Congress. We need more Republicans willing to support flexibility in intelligence operations, rather than relying on moralistic legalism.