Several times today Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” asked the same question about the Senate intelligence report on torture. I call dibs because I thought of this same question earlier in the week.
How can the Democrats and the Republicans on the same committee look at the same evidence and come to such different conclusions?
What perhaps bothers me more than any “war crimes” we may have committed is the inability to get at the truth. Dick Cheney says the torture report is “crap”. Dianne Feinstein says it’s gospel. Is one of them a liar? Are they both lying?
This seems to be a constant nowadays. It seems that for at least 50% of news stories “reasonable people can disagree”. Maybe I’m nostalgic but I seem to remember a time when there was such a thing as facts. Now we hear stats like the unemployment rate that even I don’t believe and I’m not a crazed conspiracy theorist.
How can we get anywhere when we can’t agree on a basic set of facts?
Postscript: The Strange Parallel Universe of War
In the discussion thread of the previous essay, I suggested that war is by definition illegal. Its primary features are murder and destruction. These acts are illegal in any civilized country and immoral in most religions. But in the context of war you can kill a man if he wears the uniform of the enemy. Nowadays uniforms don’t even matter. If our spies tell us you’re the enemy, we will drone you with zero consequences.
We have “military courts”. If a soldier commits a crime, he’s tried in a military court. We are not talking military infractions such as insubordination. We are talking assault and rape. Just yesterday I saw a story about military sex offenders who never end up in the civilian sex offender registry.
In our discussion of torture we hear people say in the context of post-9/11, torture was “something else”. What context justifies rectal feeding or letting a prisoner die of hypothermia?
All is fair in love and war. When it comes to war, this should send a chill down our spine.
What do you think? The bar is open.