Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Ray Of Hope On Torture

A recent study indicated that partisan thinking is hard-wired into the brain, and that the most rational thinkers are less partisan. Along those lines, I see that Armed Liberal at the often absurdly partisan Winds Of Change has had second thoughts about the chain of command involved in torture now that Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer, Jr. has received the not-especially strict punishment of $6,000 and essentially house arrest for the killing of a prisoner. AL's response is particularly interesting:
Overall, other than the telegenic Abu Ghreib defendants, the penalties meted out for killing Iraqi prisoners appear to have been very light.

This kind of blows my argument - that this isn't an issue because we find the people who do Bad Stuff and punish them - out the window.

And it implies a higher level of organizational responsibility than makes me happy. I'm not advocating closing Camp X-Ray, nor am I suddenly of the belief that reading terrorists their rights in the heat of battle before shooting them is a requirement. But there is a line, and it looks to me like we are on the wrong side of it.

When the president's first order of business is finding legal grounds to justify torture, and his chief lawyer is involved in the writing of this memo, it's astonishing to me how anyone could possibly not see the bright, clear line between that document and boots on the necks of Iraqi prisoners, waterboarding, and all the rest. If the conscience of the right is finally awakening to all the evil their excusifying has caused, it's a step, if belated, in the right direction.