Thursday, January 23, 2020

Shining City On A Hill

The Kids Today won't remember of course, but too many people who should know better have just chosen to not remember. Once upon a time the Bush administration decided Torture Was Good. The very silly opinion from the types of people who opposed the Iraq War thought Torture Was Bad, but they thought lots of silly things. The Very Serious Moderate Position was that Torture Was Bad, but if you don't call it torture and did it for a good reason, then whatever it is we're not calling torture is, well, regrettable, but they made us do it, you see. Weirdly that was pretty much the position of Don Rumsfeld!
The March 6 memo, prepared for Mr Rumsfeld explained that what may look like torture is not really torture at all. It states that: if someone "knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent even though the defendant did not act in good faith".

What this means in understandable English is that if a parent, in his anxiety to know where his son goes after choir practice, does something that will cause severe pain to his son, it is only "torture" if the causing of that severe pain is his objective. If his objective is something else - such as finding out where his son goes after choir practice - then it is not torture.

Mr Rumsfeld's memo goes on: "a defendant" (by which he means a concerned parent) "is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person within his control".

Couldn't be clearer. If your intention is to extract information, you cannot be accused of torture.