Harry Blackmun: Friend of Torture Apologetics

The curious affinity between the nutty consequentialism of the abortion license and the Coalition for Fog that continues to speak from deep inside deepest darkest Bubbledom.

And, as the Bubble contracts, we hear such spectacular Orwellianisms as:

Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud. – Deroy Murdock

Or this utterly creepy description by a Bush shill of what happens when torture breaks a victim:

The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

Or this quasi-blasphemous attempt by Peg Noonan to take the language normally reserved for the Trinity or Transubstantiation and deploy it to justify the will to just shut your eyes to evil and cover it all up:

“It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, ‘Oh, much good will come of that.’ Sometimes in life you want to keep walking… Some of life has to be mysterious.”

While this tried-and-true strategy for confronting evil certainly has precedent among our bishops, I can’t really endorse it as a sound prudential judgement, given the results they achieved. Morever, as Sullivan notes, while the most diehard defender of our bishop’s incredible neglect and corruption could, as a last gasp, point to the fact that abusing people is not actual Church policy, the Bushies don’t even have *that* fig leaf. Torture and prisoner abuse *were* the policy.

Meanwhile, the Rubber Hose Right continues keeping up the lie with the latest round of “It’s not torture and besides, it works.” The “it’s not torture” thing no longer passes the laugh test what with 183 waterboardings in a month and over 100 people in our custody meeting violent deaths (plus the Red Cross torture report), so the “beside’s it works” thing has to be emphasized. Marc Thiessen was busy banging this drum with the lie that torture saved LA. No. it didn’t. But it did send us on wild goose chases for non-existent terror plots, which doesn’t get mentioned much by the war criminals who are now fighting a rear guard action to cover their rears.

That’s the thing about engaging in grave and intrinsic evil. When people find out what you’ve done, there’s. no. excuse. for. it. That’s why it’s called “grave and intrinsic evil”.

So what is Caesar going to do about this grave breech of the good by the civil authority entrusted with protectig the common good? A reader sums things up:

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to thanking you for setting out the issue of torture before and wanted to make sure I did that. I’ve been in agreement with you on it, though I haven’t ever articulated the position with the same level of passion that you have.

With that in mind, I’ve found it interesting to see the contortions the Obama administration has gone through with respect to torture; first, we were going to see prosecutions of those responsible. Then, that was amended to “we’ll look at prosecuting the authors of the memos, but not the CIA agents who did the actual, you know, torturing” (an inversion of the answer to Abu Ghraib), and now, we’re getting the “look! We gained valuable information using illegal and immoral techniques, so it’s all cool!”

Torture was pretty much the *only* issue that I was able to agree with Obama on, and he’s set that aside. Not that I would have expected anything different, but it is noteworthy. Frankly I’m confused; at some point I saw that CIA and other non-military entities were going to be bound by the Army Field Manual guidelines for interrogations. Is that true now, or not?

As I understand it, Obama has said he means to bind the CIA to Army regs–which is a good thing if he actually does it. However, as I also understand it, there are loopholes and caveats which the Administration can exploit if it feels like it.

Bottom line: watch what they do, not what they say. Bush *said*, “We do not torture”. He lied. The net result of all Obama has done so far is to fix (perfectly just) opprobrium on the war criminals of the previous administration (“Let’s all have a 15 minute hate against Bush! Bad Bush! Why can’t you be like Obama?”)–while holding fast to the legal reasoning that undergirded much of the catastrophe that was the Bush Administration.

The consequentialist of the Left and Right have certain minor disagreements about which intrinsic evils they will fight for. But at the end of the day, they are consequentialists and brothers under the skin.

And they are slowly working to achieve a synthesis and unity as they pursue their common quest for secular messianic bliss.