Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Torture is the method of choice of the lazy, the stupid, and the pseudo-tough."

So said retired Rear Admiral John Hutson during the Mukasey nomination process. Here's the very long transcript; this line comes near the end. (Thanks to Garry Trudeau for highlighting the quotation.)

Hutson's entire testimony is worth reading. However, here's his specific response (emphasis mine) to a question from Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) about Mukasey's waterboarding-torture testimony:

The United States as a nation and the attorney general as an individual has to be absolutely unequivocal. We can't dance around definitions. We can't dance around, you know, what is torture and what's cruel and what's inhumane and what's degrading as we have done.

In the past, we never had to worry about that, because we were never close to the line. We were always a long ways away from the line.

Now, we want to be right up next to the line, so suddenly what those definitions are become important.

I think that is a terrible mistake for this country, because that same cleverness is going to come back to bite our troops, because it's our troops who are forward deployed.

When Eisenhower and Marshall and Senator Vincent and others looked at the Geneva Conventions, they were not looking at them as a limitation on our behavior. They were looking at them as a limitation on the enemy's behavior. They were there to protect U.S. troops. That's what we were thinking.

Now, suddenly, we're looking at ways to dance around it, so that we can engage in that kind of activity, and as then-Legal Counsel Gonzales said, so that we can avoid the War Crimes Act.

My goodness. How did we get to that point?

You know, torture is the method of choice of the lazy, the stupid and the pseudo-tough. And that should not be the United States. No matter how you define torture. It's unconstitutional, it violates statutes, it violates the UCMJ, it violates Common Article 3, it violates what your mother taught you and it violates what you learned in kindergarten. And we ought not be even close to it.

To the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough, I would add the cruel, and perhaps the frightened. Still, Hutson's characterization is one of the best I've seen.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

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