Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain and torture

Here's Andrew Sullivan trumpeting McCain as the man who will end torture in America:
One final point: a McCain nomination means one thing for sure. The era of legal, authorized torture in America is coming to a close. This is a critical moment. And it is more than fitting that a man who endured torture at the hands of America's enemies should now be picked to restore American honor after the disgrace of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld.
There has been one thing about McCain's torture stance that has never been clear to me. The various terrorist groups in conflict with the United States (a) make no distinction between civilians and soldiers when planning their attacks; (b) deliberately obfuscate the distinction between themselves and non-combatants to deter retaliation against themselves; (c) commit civilian atrocities without scruple on a regular basis; (d) torture, multilate, and murder prisoners that they take captive; (e) specifically organize themselves to defeat the civilian law-enforcement establishment when it gets in their way; (f) specifically target government officials in order to destabilize civilian government when it gets in their way; and (g) have already committed the most notorious civilian mass atrocity in recent history.

Yet, despite being an unrestrained general menace upon world peace and order, Americans are still supposed to accord terrorists with the full slate of legal, human, and Geneva rights and privileges. On the other hand, if United States soldiers make the slightest deviation from perfect propriety in their treatment of terrorist prisoners, then those soldiers are war criminals and potentially liable to penalties imposed by foreign governments. Could someone please explain to me why putting panties on a terrorist's head is subject to harsher liberal disapproval than, say, blowing up a school bus full of children?

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