Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Just breathe

Probably the most sensible piece on “torture” I’ve seen yet:

Because, quite simply, in much of the debate over “torture”, we’re not talking about actual torture at all. We’re talking about rough treatment, harshness, or coercion.

The American left has defined these upward until they mean the same thing as torture, all as a part of their efforts to undermine the War on Terror in general. The core of this stance is the assertion that a slap on the head, several days without sleep, or hearing Rage Against the Machine played at full volume is fully the equivalent of torture in the classic sense. (Well… maybe we should reconsider that last….)

Of course, it’s no such thing. Torture is easily defined as physical assault carried out over a prolonged period against a victim under complete control and holding the possibility of permanent physical or psychic damage. Official legal terminology contains the proviso that torture consists of acts that “revolt the conscience” We can also add, by way of Dashiell Hammett, that such actions must have “threat of death behind them”. If they contain these elements, they are torture. If not, they’re something less. Not necessarily something justifiable or commendable, but not torture either. (Another method of judging these actions is to ask whether the activity would excite an individual like Mengele or Yezhov.)

The left has succeeded, through a relentless media campaign (is there any other kind?) in obscuring this distinction. According to the latest criteria, torture is anything unpleasant that occurs to a prisoner while in American custody. (Overseas it’s different. It’s very, very difficult — almost impossible, in fact — for any developing or left-of-center regime to commit torture, no matter what they do to their prisoners. Unless, as in the rendition uproar, the U.S. is somehow involved.)

These hysterics can never be taken seriously on national security issues simply because…well, they aren’t. They spend more effort resisting the war being fought against Muslim terrrorists than they ever will resisting the terrorists themselves. And their willingness to risk damaging American national security with dishonest hyperventilating erodes their phony claim to “patriotism” every time they open their mouths to equivocate further. The more extreme left-wing partisans — ie, the Dem nutroots base — are not just weak on national security, but actively opposed to it when it conflicts with their globalist agenda and their wish to strip America of its sovereignty and strength.

They’re liars, they’re cowards, they’re deluded, and they are patently anti-military and anti-American. And the Dems are listening to their every disingenuous utterance and pandering to them as shamelessly as can be imagined, although the tenor and tempo of their frothing seems to have been attenuated somewhat by recent encouraging if underreported signs from Iraq.

We don’t do ourselves any good when we refuse to look the basic fact of Lefty antiwar propagandizing unflinchingly in its ugly face, and instead temporize for the sake of a “courtesy” in political discourse that we ourselves will never see extended in our direction. It cannot be stressed enough. It’s far too late for Shrub to recognize this and act accordingly. But the next President had damned well better; otherwise, the prospect for a timely victory in this war is greatly diminished.


3 thoughts on “Just breathe

  1. Fred:…the measures must meet the circumstances, and if we’re facing the imminent loss of innocent American lives, if we’re confident enough in our intelligence—and that’s a big if; we got to do a lot better there for sure—to believe that the person that we have has information that, that would start the, in effect, ticking time bomb that we talk about sometimes, the measures have to meet those circumstances. And I’m not sure what it would take. You’re talking about techniques. We’re having a big public debate now on a technique which I know very little about. It sounds very gruesome to me. But the president of the United States has an obligation to do what I just said, and I can’t imagine anybody being president who wouldn’t make that decision.

    MR. RUSSERT: So you would use techniques that you felt necessary?

    MR. THOMPSON: Yes.

    MR. RUSSERT: And, and pay the consequences for using those if, in fact, they turned out to be torture?

    MR. THOMPSON: I would pay the consequences, or, or I would, I would answer to whatever decision that I made. And I would do what was necessary, if necessary, to protect those who carried out my orders under those circumstances.”


  2. I tell you, it’s all an outgrowth of the self-esteem crap we went through in the 80s. When your self-esteem is the most important thing in your life, people start reacting to every insult with lethal force. Now lawyers are trying to make giving offense to anyone illegal, the use of harsh language or humiliating demands are labeled torture, and people are killing one another over their watering their lawns.

    We have seriously become a nation of drama queens.

  3. “We can also add, by way of Dashiell Hammett, that such actions must have ‘threat of death behind them'”

    I disagree with that criteria. Saddam used to tie guys up and force them to watch as their wife and daughters were gang raped. I would absolutely qualify that one as torture, even though the man being tortured doesn’t necessarily come under any threat of physical harm, much less death.

    (Of course, torture for the women, too, who were generally killed following the rapes — but the target of that tactic was the man; the women were simply tools for the task.)

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