Writings and observations

First take

At what point did we cross the line when significant numbers of Americans thought torture was okay for us to do? It wasn’t the case a generation or two ago; in the years I grew up, it was the bad buys – and only the bad guys, whether in fact or fiction – who tortured people. (At least as far as we knew or countenanced.) The good news yesterday was that the U.S. Senate decisively seemed to share that general concept; most of the Republican caucus and all of the Democrats led the 78-21 vote to reaffirm (this is not new policy, it’s just re-upping what’s already on the books) the official prohibition on torture. So what are we to make of the 21 senators who voted against? Idaho’s two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, were the sole northwesterners (and that would include the Republicans from Alaska as well as the Democrats from Washington and Oregon and mixed delegation from Montana) to oppose the amendment banning torture. And why would they do that? Boise Weekly checked in with their offices, and got no response from Risch’s. Crapo’s statement had an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand quality: “In the past he has expressed reservations about some of the things that were done, but he has been increasingly vocal about the tools that our military has at their disposal, some of the restrictions that were put in place. At the same time, he is changing his mind and his tune on when we should put our troops out there—boots on the ground, so to speak. He is less inclined to do that, but when we do it, we ought not to hamstring them in regard to what techniques they can use, and I think this follows along with that.” No. It’s not that complicated. Crapo’s vote was for saying that we’re okay with torturing people who fall into our hands. And what message, and what moral license, does that give to people who capture Americans? And what kind of moral sense can we attribute to someone who supports the use of torture? – rs

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