Crime & Punishment

Did We Or Didn't We?

Torture.

Who ever thought we'd be talking so much about this? I confess I did not. I thought this was something out of the past back in Medieval times with Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition and that whole crew.

Of course, we know that the American prisoners in Vietnam were tortured. And we know that various guerrilla groups torture people and the purpose is clearly to dominate, humiliate and punish and hurt those victims as well as those who care about or identify with them. But I don't think it ever occurred to me that American soldiers or CIA interrogators or contractors would torture people, at least not routinely, and at least not under the cover of law.

And now we have this debate: Did we or didn't we?

Members of the Bush administration defending the government's policies and actions during this time say we — and it is WE, if this was done in our name and on our behalf as Americans — did not, and that the U.S. stayed on the right side of a not very bright line. Others say we crossed that line, too many times, and now we have to try to cross back.

Two speeches today lay out this very serious and important case. The President and former Vice President Dick Cheney are both speaking today. And we will be watching, and listening. And we hope you will also, if you can. Because this is about what we think is right. We may never know all of what actually happened (although something tells me we will), but we do have a responsibility to come to terms with it, whatever side of the debate we happen to be on.

Of course, that could be my naivete.

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