Would-be presidential candidates support torture

I’m a Canadian, and the USA’s 2008 presidential election is a long way off. But at least one issue — torture — warrants continual attention.

The Republican Party is already holding debates to choose a leader to succeed George W. Bush. The second debate took place last night. Here’s Andrew Sullivan‘s report on the issue of primary interest to me:

Two candidates opposed [torture] clearly and honorably: [John] McCain and [Ron] Paul. All the others gleefully supported it — including [Sam] Brownback. He’s a born-again Christian for torture.

[Rudy] Giuliani revealed himself as someone we already know. He would have no qualms in exercising executive power brutally, no scruples or restraints.

[Mitt] Romney would double the size and scope of Gitmo, to ensure that none of the detainees have lawyers, regardless of their innocence or guilt.

Sullivan has more on Romney’s position here:

Romney reveals in this [National Review Online interview] clip that he does not believe the president is bound by the law in this question.

He says that he will not provide a definition of “what is torture and what is not torture,” because a president should be able to keep terror supects guessing. So he supports “enhanced interrogation techniques” and not torture, but refuses to say what the difference is. And he says the president gets to pick. And U.S. citizens are subject to this regime.

The logic of Romney’s position, then, is that the president can designate any human being or citizen an “enemy combatant,” detain them indefinitely without charges or recourse to the courts, and torture them using any method he wishes as long as he says it’s not torture and he is under no obligation to explain what torture is.

I continue to find this situation shocking. Many Republican candidates clearly believe they need to take a pro-torture position to improve their prospects of electoral success. That this position is now mainstream is a horrific development, in my view.

And I should call attention to a second extremely important issue. The second quote touches on it: detain them indefinitely without charges or recourse to the courts. The issue is habeus corpus:  we’re still waiting to see which presidential candidates would reinstate it and which candidates would not.

What an Orwellian world the Bush Administration has created in its response to 9/11! If habeus corpus no longer applies, and any citizen of any country can be tortured at pleasure of the US President, the terrorists win.

I know the statement is trite, but it also happens to be true.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. addofio
    May 18, 2007 @ 09:56:30

    From the beginning, I’ve been more worried about the damage our own response to 9/11 would do than about the damage terrorists could do to us directly. This is an example of the kind of thing I was worried about. There’s a verse in the Bible I’m too foggy to recall exactly, something about saving your life but losing your soul, that’s directly relevant, it seems to me. We’re in serious dange of losing our American soul–or more concretely, tossing out the Constitution and the whole idea of government based on law and not on persons or personal loyalty. But hopefully not permanently–we’ve gone through other episodes of hysteria and recovered from them, hopeflly we will this time too.


  2. Thoughtful Independent
    May 22, 2007 @ 16:37:43

    I think the verse you are thinking about is Mark 8: 36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

    I agree wholeheartedly on the sentiment of torture…how is that at all consistent with the Christian values that the Republican party so closely associates itself with?


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