Andrew Sullivan runs down a list of torture techniques that, he charges, various people at National Review Online (and others on the right) have endorsed. The list includes, Sullivan claims, stress positions. forced hooding and stripping, mock executions, forced nudity, multiple beatings, use of dogs to terrify, freezing prisoners to near death with icewater and naked exposure to very low temperatures, repeated near-drowning, sleep deprivation up to 960 hours, repeatedly slamming a prisoner with a neck collar against a wall, confinement in upright coffins, and use of phobias such as the rats in Orwell’s Room 101.
I assume that Sullivan can provide chapter and verse for his claims. But of course not every member of the Red team (I can’t call them “conservatives” in t his context without straining the language) writes for NRO, nor did everyone at NRO endorse every one of thosetechniques. What I’m not clear on is how many or which Red bloggers and pundits, or how many or which Republican politicians, endorse them.
We know that the entire Red team is, virtually unanimously, against holding any official responsible for doing such things, or ordering them done, or facilitating them with purported legal opinions. We know that they are, virtually unanimously, against giving the people subjected to such techniques civilian trials at which they can the use as evidence against them of statements they made after undergoing them. And of course against moving prisoners from Guantanamo to mainland prisons where their treatment might be subject to closer scrutiny. But many on the right. starting with George W. Bush, claim to be against “torture.”
What we don’t know is many of them, or which of them, other than Charles Krauthammer and Donald Rumsfeld, are shameless enough to stand up and say, “Yes, I’m for waterboarding,” or “Yes, I’m for hypothermia,” or “Yes, I’m for sleep deprivation,” or “Yes, I’m for stress positions.”
Every one of those techniques is, in my view, clearly torture. And of course if any of them were done to an American by a foreign government or by a terrorist group, all of us would regard them as torture.
So I offer a challenge to the inhabitants of Red Blogistan. Go through Sullivan’s list, and state clearly which of those techniques you would be prepared to have used against captives of the United States Government, and which you regard as clearly over the line.
And I hate to say this, but some of the signals coming out of Washington make me want to ask the same question of some spokesman for the current Administration. I’d really like to hear that all those things are not now being done in my name, under my flag. I’d also like to believe that most of my fellow-citizens would, like the Father of Our Country, recoil in horror from doing any of those things. But that pretty clearly isn’t the case.