William Jacobson has a thoughtful piece in today’s American Thinker about the debate over "torture" in the interrogation of terrorist suspects and why Nancy Pelosi is key. He identifies three facets to be kept in mind:
The legal: the relevant section of the US Code is not as precise on the issue as one might expect, with the key issue being the difference between specific and general intent. Jacobson’s argument and that of Attorney General Holder have caused me to revise my earlier opinion that waterboarding is torture under US law.
The ethical: Follow the last link above, and you’ll discover my
contempt for opinion on the "no waterboarding, preserve our moral purity" argument. Jacobson also makes a good argument that, like the atomic attacks on Japan in 1945, waterboarding constituted the lesser of two evils and the only politically acceptable solution. Nonetheless, we have to acknowledge and allow for the conscientious objection of those who find harsh interrogation unacceptable under any circumstances — no matter how much I think they’re fools.
The political: But then there are those who feign outrage, but really only want to use the "torture debate" to damage their Republican and conservative rivals in order to cement their political advantage. Their goal is to have the public see only the controversial acts, but without any context that would give meaning to the debate. And Pelosi is the living symbol of this whole group. As Jacobson puts it:
And it is this historical context which the Democrats wish to evade, and which makes what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it absolutely critical.
Far from being a distraction, the information provided to Pelosi, and her acquiescence in the interrogation methods, puts the whole debate in proper historical context. If Pelosi, who states that she is against "torture" under any circumstance, was willing to go along with the interrogation methods, then the planned political circus falls apart. Nancy Pelosi was the classic example of a person who opposed certain interrogation methods in principle, but under certain circumstances and certain places in time was willing to go along or look the other way because the alternative was worse.
If the Democrats want a "truth commission," then Pelosi, Jay Rockefeller, and everyone else in Congress involved in the intelligence briefings from that time should be among the first to testify –under oath. That would be the only way such a likely farce could give the public the information it needs to fairly judge the issue.