Right-Wing Torture Enablers

The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the US Inspector General’s just released report on CIA interrogation techniques under the Bush administration, still refuses to call it torture, but why break with eight years of tradition, right? Have a look at some of the language used below in a couple of extracts taken from yesterday’s WSJ editorial and compare them to John Conroy’s list  (from a previous post) of the excuses that torturers and their enablers use to ‘justify’ torture (bold and italics added for emphasis):

Interrogations were carefully limited, briefed on Capitol Hill, and yielded information that saved innocent lives. (respectively, see #8 and #4 on Conroy’s list)

The enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) “would be used on ‘an as needed basis’ and all would not necessarily be used. Further, the EITs were expected to be used ‘in some sort of escalating fashion’ ….” The agency had psychologists evaluate al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, to ensure he would not suffer physical or long-term mental harm. (see #2 and #10).

We should not be surprised that the right-wing WSJ continues to act as a mouthpiece for the justification of torture. Human rights and conservatives, it seems, have never been easy bedfellows.  Even when torture was being publically condemned as an ‘atrocity’ by the likes of Voltaire back in the 1700s, it was right-wing traditionalists who were producing pamphlets and treatises arguing for its retention.

The abolition of torture across Europe by the end of the 18th century was fundamentally necessary for the concept of universal human rights to take hold, which in turn provided the bases for modern democracies to emerge. Refusing to go quietly into this new day, conservative politicians and philosophers, including Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Edmund Burke (1729-1797), would continue to argue for a more religiously-oriented, hierarchical society predicated on existing social inequalities.

How far have we truly come since then?

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