Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mora on Torture

Despite his endorsement of the debacle in Iraq, retired Navy general counsel, Alberto Mora, seems to have joined up with the torture awareness campaign, if only by coincidence. Nonetheless, after some introductory equivocation about Afghanistan and Iraq, Mora moves into an spirited admonition of torture and more generally, cruel and inhumane treatment, calling such policy and practice, An Affront to American Values.
It is astonishing to me, still, that I should be here today addressing the issue of American cruelty -- or that anyone would ever have to. Our forefathers, who permanently defined our civic values, drafted our Constitution inspired by the belief that law could not create but only recognize certain inalienable rights granted by God -- to every person, not just citizens, and not just here but everywhere. Those rights form a shield that protects core human dignity. Because this is so, the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel punishment. The constitutional jurisprudence of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments outlaws cruel treatment that shocks the conscience. The Geneva Conventions forbid the application of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to all captives, as do all of the major human rights treaties adopted and ratified by our country during the last century.
Of course, critics of White House policy regarding the treatment of detainees have been saying this for sometime now. The various ankle-biting pundits (Charles Krauthhammer, Glenn Reynolds, Powerline trogs) who regurgitated strawman and reductio ad absurdum arguments in order to "prove" that torture was not only desirable but necessary in some cases would do well to read General Mora's article. And then move on the Constitution. It seems more than a few of them expressing opinions in the public sphere aren't too terribly familiar with that august document.


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