Friday, October 05, 2007

Rhetorical Question of the Day

Since the President assures us that the interrogation techniques he's authorized for use on those suspected of ties to terrorism are not torture, would he object to their employment against American POWs by an enemy, or against Americans arrested by police in the United States?

(My fear is that the answer, could we get it, would be "no," in the case of American civilians, at least.)


Unrelated note: I am rather happy to announce that the previous post on Sen's Paretian Liberal Paradox is the 100th post on Unforeseen Contingencies. More economics is coming!

The question is not whether "would he object to their employment against American POWs by an enemy, or against Americans arrested by police in the United States?"

The question is actually whether he would object if they were used on an American citizen intercepted by a foreign government who, on his own initiative and part of some private conspiracy, went across the world in a covert plan to detonate himself in the midst of civilians or to render aid or comfort to those planning to do so.

Essentially, would the President object to that foreign county using identical interrogation procedures on an American citizen who meets the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant?

And the answer is he would not object. I believe he has used universal language to talk about the rights of states in general (and not just the US in particular) to create special rules to protect against particularly dangerous individuals who do not meet the definition of protected prisoners of war under the Geneva convention.
Thank you for your comment. You raise an extremely important point I keep meaning to address.

The various "procedures" (torture, extraordinary rendition, imprisonment at Guantanamo) are not employed against terrorists. They are employed against people whom someone has accused of being terrorists, or whom the administration suspects of being terrorists. The difference, and the danger, is quite obvious.

The administration has fought hard to prevent any sort of oversight, check or balance, judicial review, use of habeus corpus, or other similar elements of the rule of law. There's no process by which an innocent man might establish his innocence. This is unconstitutional and illegal.

Finally, states do not have rights. If Bush indeed suggested such, as you state, he's wrong. Individuals have rights, and states have only such just powers as individuals grant them. Of course, states also have the unjust powers they grab for themselves.
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