Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Torture Memo

An article on MSNBC tells about the Justice Department memo that says that the President has the power to unilaterally alter or ignore international treaties.

I will let the Constitutional scholars debate the legitimacy of such a claim.

My interest concerns the two lines at the end of the article.

Yoo's memo became part of a debate among the Pentagon's civilian and military leaders about what interrogation tactics to allow at overseas facilities and whether U.S. troops might face legal problems domestically or in international courts. Also of concern was whether techniques used by U.S. interrogators might someday be used as justification for harsh treatment of Americans captured by opposing forces.

Neither of these address my concern - the greatest concern of the memo. This is the degree to which the Bush decision will be viewed as justification for the leaders of other countries to engage in torture generally - not just against Americans, but against their own people.

We have lost the moral authority to condemn torture. To criticize other countries that engage in torture, when we condone it, makes us hypocrites.

Furthermore, in claiming the right to ignore international treaties, we have given every other political leader the right to ignore international treaties.

When you make a moral choice, you make that moral choice for everybody. If you are not willing to make that moral choice for everybody, then it is wrong to make that choice for yourself. There is no sense in saying, "There is one moral rule for us where we may do whatever we please, and a different moral rule for everybody else where they must also do whatever pleases us."

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