This is why I think it is essential to conduct a
thorough investigation of the U.S. government's unfortunate record of
officially-sanctioned torture over the last eight years: Bushies argue that they may have done bad
things, but at least, when they made torture national policy, they kept the
country safe from attack.
What has got me stewing about this, oddly enough, is
the British government's stalwart reaction to losing the American Revolution.
In the aftermath of that wrenching disaster, British officials conducted a
painful and thorough examination of how to better provide for the security of
their nation. It was fortunate they did, because the consequent reforms helped
them get in shape to withstand Napoleon two decades later. As Kevin Phillips
puts it in his terrific book The
Cousins' Wars, "Much of the change that helped to beat Napoleon in
Europe was seeded by frustration over defeat in North America."
Bottom line? Just because you have an embarrassing
problem, you shouldn't try to hide it, because dealing with it may prepare you
for an even bigger challenge down the road. So let's get the torture and
interrogation situation straightened out before the next big terrorist attack.
My preference, as I've stated before, is for a
truth and reconciliation commission that offers an amnesty period during
which people would be invited to step forward. Anyone not 'fessing up during
that time would face the possibility of prosecution. Again, I think this effort
should target those who departed from American history and made torture
(And follow-up on yesterday: Yes, I do believe torture
has two victims, the human suffering it and the human inflicting it. I believe
there is a pretty good body of evidence collected on how torturers often are
haunted and eroded by their long past acts.)