Sunday, August 02, 2009

Higher Ground

From the BBC today: Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi says opposition detainees put on trial have been subjected to "medieval torture".

There once was a time when the U.S. could act shocked at those revelations and condemn such an evil and barbaric government. Now, what can we do? Our country went medieval a long time ago. And yes, waterboarding is medieval.

And it's not just our government. It's not just Republicans or Democrats. Many Americans are willing to tolerate torture. In fact, a recent poll indicates that Americans are more willing to tolerate the use of torture than are Chinese.

What happened? We used to be proud of our Western system of justice. The most critical right is the right of the accused to have a trial by jury. But Congress decided that shouldn't apply to detainees. Apparently gathering evidence is hard. And why have a trial when you can torture and get all the false confessions you need?

We can rightfully proclaim that "the public humiliation of prisoners is against international law" when one of our own soldiers is captured... but can the rest of the world take us seriously? I lament the loss of our moral high ground.

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