Torture vel non. This will be the question of the upcoming week, no doubt, as the Congress debates various proposals to exempt the CIA or other entities from the Geneva Convention, US military regulations and standard police investigative practices that have been the law of the land for centuries. It is said that we must have information from our captives to protect our troops and our homeland and that departure from our norms may be needed to secure it.
Why are we having this debate? Didn't we need information during the world wars, during Korea and VietNam? Wasn't it likely (wasn't it even more likely?) that captured troops or guerillas could supply it, and wouldn't the same argument apply to them, that harsher methods of interrogation might obtain more information, might save lives? And yet we stuck by the rules in world war--and we stuck by them during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union posed a documented nuclear threat to the U.S.
We're told that "9/11 changed everything." Well, maybe so. Maybe we've allowed the Bush administration to convince us that, but to me all that's changed is the American psyche. "We Have Met the Enemy...and He is Us."