Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Torture Cheerleader

Rush Limbaugh is unhappy. He doesn't like Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to order a preliminary inquiry into possible abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency at its overseas prisons, and ranted on his program Tuesday:

Then you look at this interrogation stuff. We heard reports that interrogators threatened the detainees' families. The abuses by the interrogators reported in the press -- I think there's a little test we want to perform here -- what I think we have here is a staged mock shooting. You know, we had that in another room, and that was used to get the attention of a terrorist. We wanted to make the terrorist think we have shot one of your buddies in the other room, so we fire off a gun and nobody gets hurt. We had another terrorist threatened with a power drill and a gun, and we have heard about waterboarding and we're told this is dangerously damaging to a prisoner's psyche. In the meantime we're talking to people who killed 3,000 people in cold blood and vowed to do more and were treated as heroes, and we think we're gonna be upsetting their psychology by threatening them with a frigging power drill?

If this is true, I think they're pretty clever techniques. I think they're pretty clever techniques and they're not harmful.

These "clever techniques" which are "not harmful" contributed to the deaths of the approximately 100 detainees who died while in U.S. custody. Further, it's not clear who has told Limbaugh that waterboarding or other tactics "is dangerously damaging to a prisoner's psyche." Presumably, it's another means of suggesting that those who question anything the right approves of is somehow effeminate, maybe even "French." And we can assume that Rush is really not ignorant, but merely characteristically trying to deceive his audience, when he claims "we're talking to people who killed 3,000 people in cold blood," given that at least 28 Guantanamo Bay detainees were released by the Bush Administration after federal courts found there was insufficient reason for them to be held. And most of the 9/11 terrorists, responsible for murdering 3,000 people were killed (logic optional; hot blooded emotionalism standard).

It's unfortunate that Limbaugh believes- no, not believes, but strategically claims- that this limited inquiry (stopping short of an actual investigation) is "the most radical leftist agenda advanced by a radical leftist party in the course of my lifetime." Surely, Holder is right when he notes "as attorney general, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law."

Just as clearly, the "advanced interrogation techniques" at issue appear to be illegal. The U.N. Convention Against Torture, codified in U.S. law, demands "each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law" and "each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature." No exceptions made for terrorists or actors in an undeclared law. And torture? According to U.S. criminal law, it's anything "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering... upon another person." No exceptions made for "pretty clever techniques." This pesky rule of law thing.

'Tis a pity, though. Rush won't inform his listeners that "the most radical leftist agenda advanced by a radical leftist party in the course" of his lifetime, mandated by our approval as a nation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, was inspired by the "leftist" President who signed the document. The year: 1988. The President: Ronald Wilson Reagan.

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