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Countering a Tortured Argument

With word that Sens. Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer have voiced their intention to back Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, his installment as head of the Justice Department is all but assured, barring some heretofore unheard of spinal stiffening by the remainder of the Dems in Congress. Thus far, the sticking point for those opposed to his nomination has been because of his hedging on the issue of whether or not waterboarding constitutes torture.

Here is the only question that need be asked of Mukasey (or anyone else) who refuses to affirm that waterboarding is indeed at form of torture:
If a member of our Armed Services, intelligence agencies or any American for that matter were ever subject to a procedure like waterboarding, would you consider the perpetrators to have committed war crimes?

I've used a similar argument before, but given that we are still at the point where torture is somehow considered a debatable subject, it bears repeating. And this argument works because of the "tortured logic" of it, as it were. Should the answer be yes, a follow up question could then be, "Why is it okay when the US does it?" If the answer is no, then one could ask, "Is it okay for any country to waterboard, say, a captured US soldier?" Of course the answer would be: "Absolutely not", which merely brings us back to the earlier point.

No doubt some will try to argue that it doesn't matter how we treat our detainees, because terrorists do not abide by the rules of war. While this is true, a good many countries, even ones we've ostensibly deemed "the enemy" do. And we may not always find ourselves in future conflicts solely with non-state terrorists. Indeed, a war with Iran seems to loom menacingly on the horizon even as I write this. How would we feel if the Iranians were to subject a captured U.S. pilot to some of the treatment we have inflicted on our own detainees?

There's an old saying which recommends treating others in the manner that you'd like to be treated. In the case of torture, that saying is paramount to countering the pro-torture argument.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

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