Monday, July 28, 2008

Appalling. Sickening.

Came across this transcript of Bill Moyers' interview with Jane Mayer.

There are plenty of disgusting bits, but here are some lowlights:

JANE MAYER: Well, I think they knew they were being asked about torture. I mean, they danced around the question. They've redefined the term "torture" so that what was torture before 9/11 they say has not been torture since.

BILL MOYERS: Why?

JANE MAYER: Because they wanted to interrogate people in completely brutal ways. And they wanted to avoid being accused of war crimes. So one of the witnesses there, Doug Feith in particular, who was the number three in the Pentagon, argued right after 9/11 that the Geneva Convention should no longer apply to anybody that was picked up in the war on terror, that was a terrorist suspect. And so they took away the rules of war, which were the Geneva Conventions, which America really pioneered in many ways. And they also said that the criminal laws didn't apply to the same suspects. So they were left with kind of a legal limbo. And they made up the laws as they went along on it.
Yup. Making up the rules as they go along, and obfuscating their tracks. Sounds about right.

And what happens when you start trying to make excuses and exceptions?
JANE MAYER: Well, there are a couple of things I want to say about this. One is to say that there's a special exception here: We won't torture except when we will torture, is a legal problem. The convention against torture, which the United States Senate ratified, has no exceptions. It's a major felony. There's no excuse for doing it for war. There's no excuse for national security. It doesn't have exceptions. So this is a serious legal problem.
But it's not just the legality, it's also what it does to the moral fiber of the society:

BILL MOYERS: Torture can become an accepted way of life for a society. I mean, you can get used to it. Or you can know it's going on and realizing that it doesn't affect you, so it doesn't matter to you. Do you is there a possibility that that's happening here?

JANE MAYER: Well, you know, there's a great book out called, "Torture and Democracy," by Darius Rejali, which is about how torture has worked over the years. And one of the things he writes about is that it has a very corrupting effect on a society and also on military discipline, on anybody involved in it. There's this tendency to get rougher and rougher. You don't get the answer you want? You up the level of aggression. It also has a horrific effect on the outlook of the people who were involved in this program there and I do describe how one of the interrogators in particular who did waterboarding with the CIA is wracked by nightmares now according to one of his friends. He - you can't go to that dark place without it affecting you.

I've said it many times before (and I'm tired of it, but it's important): torture is wrong. It's always wrong. And every justification given for it inevitably reflects the corruption that such mistreatment engenders.

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