Some of my conservative friends have disappointed me on the torture question. No decent human being will speak out frankly in favor of it, but lots of otherwise decent folks have, in my view, sinned by silence using some version of “Oh, are we really torturing people? I thought there were legitimate questions about that. I’m not an expert, and it seems very complicated. Really, I don’t have time to think about it as carefully as the question deserves. Ask someone else.”
Actually, it’s not that hard. Read how his captors tortured Jose Padilla into insanity without ever drawing blood. Watch the Fox News waterboarding video. Consider that the Administration has argued in legal papers that someone being held at Gitmo can’t be allowed to see his lawyer because the way he was interrogated is top secret.
Still, there is a difference between an actual conservative and the group of war criminals now in power and their enablers: legislative (I’m looking at you, John McCain), journalistic, and blogospheric.
Jonathan Adler, for example, has all the best conservative credentials: Volokh Conspiracy, Federalist Society award, clerk to Sentelle, Competitive Enterprise Institute, George Mason Law, National Review Online. And yet it’s obvious to Adler that when the Justice Department refuses to tell the Congress precisely what techniques of interrogation its current opinions allow and disallow, something is seriously out of control.
Olaf, the torture victim in ee cummings’s horrifying poem, makes a modest boast: “There is some shit I will not eat.” It’s good to know that some on the right can still make that claim, though their political leaders mostly can’t.