Friday, October 26, 2007

McCain Takes Giuliani to Task on Torture

From the NY Times

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s statement on Wednesday that he was uncertain whether waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique, was torture drew a sharp rebuke yesterday from Senator John McCain, who said that his failure to call it torture reflected his inexperience.

“All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today,” Mr. McCain, who spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, said in a telephone interview.

Of presidential candidates like Mr. Giuliani, who say that they are unsure whether waterboarding is torture, Mr. McCain said: “They should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.”

Mr. Giuliani said on Wednesday night at a forum in Davenport, Iowa, that he favored “aggressive questioning” of terrorism suspects and using “means that are a little tougher” with terrorists but that the United States should not torture people. On the question of whether waterboarding is torture, however, Mr. Giuliani said he was unsure.

“It depends on how it’s done,” he said, adding that he was unsure whether descriptions of the practice by the “liberal media” were accurate. “It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.”

The article also points out that McCain's view of torture is similar to my own:

"...Mr. McCain, who believes that torture is ineffective because its victims will say anything to make it stop..."

Just five days ago Giuliani said "'My belief in God, my reliance on his guidance, is at the core of who I am, I can assure you of that...'' and now he's advocating situational uses of torture? At what point did this brand of hypocrisy/moral relativism become acceptable in a potential president? If we can't trust a person to follow the dictates of his "deeply held" faith how can we expect him to uphold the laws of man? To me where a person stands on this issue acts as a moral barometer (particularly if they also happen espouse mainstream religious views). Its a question about whether morales and values are more important than expediency.

Earlier this week there was some discussion of "Is America inherently good"? Pushing the textbook definition of the word inherent aside my answer is no. We are however incredibly well meaning. However if we continue to elect leaders that are willing to sacrifice values for expediency it won't be too long before we won't even be able to claim that.