Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sometimes there is no middle ground

Jeanne (usually of Body & Soul, but guest-blogging at This Modern World) has a thoughtful piece about recent discussions of torture, Gitmo, and all the rest. To me the best part was this:
The fact is -- and it's been true throughout history, but we've been given a crash course in the principle in the past couple of years -- once you give anyone this tool, once you say that you can do anything to a person if you think he or she knows something you need to know, it's inevitable that when the tool is used, it will have less to do with who the victim is and what he or she knows, than with the frustration level of the torturers and their bosses, or even the release of aspects of human nature that should never be released. Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with going after terrorists who possessed urgently needed information, and everything to do with frustration over the lack of actionable intelligence for fighting insurgents. Dilawar seems to have been arrested at a time when any poor schlump would do for a scapegoat, and murdered because he was held in a place where sadism was acceptable.
Indeed -- civility during wartime is about more than appearances; it's about protecting the human spirit, on both sides of the handcuffs. We can't lay that aside lightly, nor can we stop trying to hold our leaders accountable for their poor judgement just because it hasn't worked thus far.

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