When Republicans Believed in the Rule of Law

In his excellent piece on the evolution of Republicans’ thinking about the rule of law between the Clinton administration and now, Jonathan Chait busts some of the torture apologists’ most cherished assumptions. Here are the money grafs:

The worst part is that conservatives continue to view torture through the stylized prism of the Fox drama “24.” They discuss the practice as if the subjects are always terrorists, the interrogators always know just what information to ask for, and the answer can prevent imminent destruction. All of these premises are shaky.

First, there’s no such thing as a government policy of “torturing terrorists. ” There’s only a policy of torturing people the government thinks are terrorists. Many of the suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, subjected to agonizing stress positions, turned out not to be terrorists–not because the soldiers who captured them were venal, but because they were human.

Second, torture is designed to force prisoners to provide an answer the interrogator already knows. The torturer relents when his subject provides the “correct” answer. Intelligence gathering, by contrast, is designed to garner answers the interrogator does not already know.

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3 Comments on “When Republicans Believed in the Rule of Law”

  1. Chief Says:

    This is so fundamentally obvious. I know how dumb Bush is. I really didn’t think Cheney was just as stupid.

  2. educlaytion Says:

    First of all, there’s a big difference between interrogation for proof and persuasion for information. Maybe people who support the rule of law don’t feel foreigners who want us dead should have constitutional rights that never applied to them.
    Conservative are okay with torture because of Fox’s 24? Maybe liberals are okay with 9/11 because, nope, I can’t think of any reasons why unless they hate America

    • Kathy Says:

      Actually, I believe that it’s people like you who hate America because you are so willing to throw out everything good about America.

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