Friday, May 1, 2009

Krauthammer 5/1/09

The Torture Debate

My take on Charles Krauthammer's latest. His column was published in the Washington Post.

Summary: Torture is bad but like many bad things (war) there are exceptions when it is justified. This column identifies two exceptions and relates them to the events after 9/11/2001. The most telling fact that has become known about this whole controversy is that the key Democrats who now want to prosecute the Bush officials knew and approved this at the time.

On the contrary, notes Porter Goss, then chairman of the House intelligence committee: The members briefed on these techniques did not just refrain from objecting, "on a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda."

More support, mind you. Which makes the current spectacle of self-righteous condemnation not just cowardly but hollow. It is one thing to have disagreed at the time and said so. It is utterly contemptible, however, to have been silent then and to rise now "on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009" (the words are Blair's) to excoriate those who kept us safe these harrowing last eight years.

My Views: This is really the key point to this. If the Bush Era tortures were so bad, then the leaders who were in on it ought to have said so - at least in private. While reasonable people can always criticize after the fact, reasonable people who knew what was going on did not do so. They ought to not be doing so now.

Charles Krauthammer is a more establishment columnist. He came to punditry by way of psychiatry (at Massachusetts General Hospital) via the New Republic Magazine. He appears on TV where you never see his wheelchair. Here's his Wiki bio.

He wrote a book which is pictured at the right. I am drawn by the substance and the thinking than any particular writing flair.