Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frum's Torture Apologetics

David Frum on John Yoo's recent appearance with Jon Stewart:

Yoo had come to the interview to elucidate a couple of simple points. The question he had been asked by the security arm of government was not, “How can we torture?” but “What can we do that isn’t torture?” Yoo is a lawyer, not an expert in interrogation. He did not recommend techniques. He tried to do something that the U.S. government had not done before: define the legal limit of the permissible.

Maybe that job should never have been assigned. Possibly Yoo’s answer was wrong. (Knowing John, he’d be more than usually open to that second possibility – few people in high government office can ever have had less ego than John Yoo.) But that’s the ground on which he has to be engaged, not in the angels-and-demons style of much of the media coverage … a style that has the incidental effect of recategorizing some of the most brutal enemies the United States has ever faced as pitiful victims.

Just a lawyer doing doing his job, of course - defining waterboarding as "the permissible." As if this were a novel question, never before considered.

For what it's worth, I'm hard-pressed to recall a single instance of anyone - liberal, conservative, blue, green or pink - who has ever, in any "style," categorized Osama bin Laden as a "victim."

See Mr. Frum's article, The Real John Yoo. More on John Yoo's legal "opinions" here.

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