Monday, January 5, 2009

Panetta on torture

By now you have probably heard that Leon Panetta, former Clinton Chief-of-staff and Obama's Transition Chair, has been tapped to head the CIA. Sen. Feinstein (D-California), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is not happy with the pick, but of concern to me here is Panetta's stance on torture. Torture is lazy intelligence gathering and produces questionable and suspect information. Torture is a dark blemish on our international reputation, is an assault on human dignity, and is a sin against the image of God. Oh yeah, let's not forget that torture is unconstitutional.

So what does Panetta think about torture? Last year, he wrote his beliefs on the subject in the Washington Monthly. Money quote:
We have preached these values to the world. We have made clear that there are certain lines Americans will not cross because we respect the dignity of every human being. That pledge was written into the oath of office given to every president, "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." It's what is supposed to make our leaders different from every tyrant, dictator, or despot. We are sworn to govern by the rule of law, not by brute force.

We cannot simply suspend these beliefs in the name of national security. Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that.

Indeed, we are.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it great to have the good guys in charge now? Brilliantly said by Panetta.

Matt F.

Roland the HTG said...

While having a CIA chief who understands that torture is ineffective and illegal is a good thing, there's gotta be somebody out there who thinks along these same lines, but who also has some intelligence experience. This looks like a political gift to Panetta, not necessarily based on who was the best for the job.

The guy tapped for director of national intelligence looks really impressive. If for no other reason than this: "Blair also is known in Navy circles for once trying to water-ski behind the destroyer he skippered, the USS Cochrane."