Yes indeed, torture has its defenders

A scary peek inside the twisted mind of a Bush voter.

Responding to my query about whether anyone in Blogland was defending the torture-outsourcing bill, a reader refers me to Jesse Taylor at Pandagon, who has turned over a rock and unearthed H.D. Miller of Travelling Shoes. Here’s Miller’s post, in full:

Child Killers

It’s hard to get too worked up about this,

The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership’s intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago.

when you read stories like this.

Bombs exploded near a U.S. convoy in western Baghdad on Thursday, killing 35 children and seven adults, a hospital official said. Hours earlier, a suicide car bomb killed a U.S. soldier and two Iraqis on the capital’s outskirts.

Yet further confirmation of the type of evil we’re combatting.

I’m afraid I can’t work up much sympathy right now for those who would commit such an act, nor for those who would be their supporters.

That’s as good a summary of Bushite reasoning as you’re likely to see this year.

It has all the hallmarks: the idea that combating “evil” requires us to embrace evil, the boasting about one’s lack of human sympathy, the implicit assumption that anyone accused of helping terrorists must therefore in fact be helping terrorists. In addition, it misses an important fact about the proposed law: while those accused of terrorism lose all protection from being sent to third-world torture chambers by the U.S. government, even those not so accused lose all practical protection, since to avoid being sent to, e.g., Syria, they must prove by clear and convincing evidence that they would be tortured if sent there.

Lincoln said, “Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Torture, it seems to me, is like slavery: an unspeakable insult to human dignity.

H.D. Miller is today’s Lincoln Award winner. The prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Room 101. Let your imagination run free.

After all, it’s hard to work up much sympathy right now for torturers, or for those who support sending them more victims.

And if you were still wondering why George W. Bush might win this election, take note: the thugs of al-Qaeda have managed to bring many of our fellow citizens all the way down to their own moral level.

Update: H.D. Miller says that he does not support torture. That’s a relief. If he opposes it, presumably he also opposes efforts to legislate permission for the U.S. government to collude with foreign torturers. I hope that he will say so. Since he’s an active supporter of the political party that is pushing that legislation, perhaps his voice will be heard.

Miller also seems to think that there’s some logical connection between anger at thugs in Baghdad who murder schoolchildren and indifference to whether thugs in Washington succeed in making us, as citizens, complicit in crimes against humanity. I don’t get it. I would have thought that rage at what was just done in Baghdad and rage at what’s being done now in Washington would spring from the same root.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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