If Kronicaly Bad Speling and excessive use of italiks bothers you, prepare to be bothered.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Andrew Sullivan is being intellectually dishonest.

at the same time, the dehumanization of detainees by U.S. interrogators, as cited by Durbin, is indeed something that could have happened under totalitarian regimes and is pragmatically and morally indefensible

In the big picture, he has a point. In Durbin's specific case, he is rushing blindly to defend the indefensible. The bottom line is that for what Durbin specifically said to be true, you have to believe that the acts in the FBI report he read rose, not only to the level of torture, but to the level of torture we would expect out of the worst regimes in history. Its simply absurd.

Sullivan is spinning the argument breathlessly, trying to toss every allegation of US mistreatment in Iraq and elsewhere over the last 5 years. That is not the argument Durbin made, and hence Sullivan is introducing irrelevant and inflamatory charges into the debate. No judge in the country would allow that.

The reason Sullivan feels the need to do this is because he knows how silly it is to try to convince the American people that the acts witnessed in that FBI report are out of bounds when dealing with bloody handed Al Qaeda terrorists captured on battlefields and on their way to kill American children.

When you read the account Durbin was citing you notice an important thing: the detainees were thoroughly dehumanized, robbed of any personal dignity, left in extremes of heat and cold, shackled, covered in their own urine and excrement, with one having apparently torn parts of his hair out, and left without food or water for up to 24 sleepless hours.

We can debate that all we want, of course. But politically, its a lost cause. There is simply no way, Sullivan's apoplexy notwithstanding, that the American people are going to equate this with the pulling of fingernails or electricution of genitals commonly understood to be torture. Its not going to happen. Because it is silly.

If you had been told that prisoners had been found in this state in one of Saddam's or Stalin's jails, would you have believed it? Of course, you would.

Actually no, I would find the techniques particularly mild. Here's the real question, if I told you these acts had been carried out by the British, French, or Israeli intelligence services interrogating captured terrorists in their own battles against terror, would you believe it? Of course, you would.

Andrew, your mate in the foxhole has put down his shovel. You should do the same.


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