NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–November 14, 2011. In Saturday night’s Republican debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann declared, “Under Barack Obama, he is allowing the ACLU to run the CIA.” Of course, she did not mean it literally, and the next morning on NBC’s Meet the Press she clarified that it was our “philosophy” that was directing CIA policy.
Here’s a clarification for the congresswoman of the ACLU’s philosophy on torture, the topic that prompted her comment: it is illegal, immoral, and ineffective.
In the debate, Bachmann’s desire to bring back waterboarding (i.e., torture) was echoed by Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. Herman Cain said he would let the military decide. Well, the military has decided, in compliance with the law. That’s why it didn’t employ waterboarding (the CIA did) and is barred from doing so under the Army Field Manual.
Whether America should torture terrorism suspects is not a partisan issue. Among the prominent Republicans who oppose it are Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. CIA Director David Petraeus, back when he was head of the U.S. Central Command, soundly rejected torture as a clear violation of America’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
Two of the candidates on stage with Bachmann also denounced torture. “It’s illegal under international law and under our law. It’s also immoral,” said Rep. Ron Paul. “It’s also very impractical. There’s no evidence that you really get reliable evidence.”
“This country has values,” Jonn Huntsman added. “We diminish our standing in the world and the values that we project, which include liberty, democracy, human rights, and open markets when we torture. We should not torture. Waterboarding is torture. We dilute ourselves down like a whole lot of other countries, and we lose that ability to project values that a lot of people in corners of this world are still relying on the United States to stand up for them.”
Indeed, no policy of the last decade has brought greater shame on our nation. But the stain of torture extends far beyond the damage to America’s moral standing — the use of torture and the lack of any real accountability continue to degrade the rule of law that is a foundation of our democracy. It is a scandal that none of the perpetrators of these crimes have faced justice in a court of law.
As for the CIA in particular, the ACLU will continue to pursue a full accounting of the agency’s past use of torture.