“See, Mr. Gitts, most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of…anything! “

John Huston (as Noah Cross) in Chinatown (1974)

A couple of evenings ago I was watching Keith Olbermann go way too deep into the nuances of waterboarding in the context of the Bush Office of Legal Counsel memos. I got tired of the immense effort being made to somehow distinguish the differences between waterboarding with a medical professional present and without. I started asking out loud if there wasn’t something else Olbermann could focus that fine intellect and rapier wit on that would have a more tangible benefit for us citizens.

As it happens, voices as diverse as The Daily Sentinel and Garrison Keillor seem to be sharing this sentiment, and many published opinions carry with it a recurring theme; that too many resources and media attention would be directed at the inevitable hearings, indictments, and trials surrounding those who did indeed engage in torture at the behest of their government.
Keillor said it best:

“When I hear Democrats talk about “holding them responsible,” I smell the sour righteousness of the victorious lording it over the vanquished. The guy they really want to put on trial is the old brush-cutter of Crawford, or else the old grouse hunter of Wyoming. They’re the guys who signed off on those memos authorizing torture. The buck stopped at their desks.”

Our limited resources should be effectively managed by directing them toward fixing the problem permanently, instead of engaging in high-profile prosecutions that amount to putting out spot fires while the central conflagration continues to burn unabated. As the Sentinel’s editorial today pointed out very succinctly:

“One can dispute whether the United States should engage in some of these techniques, and many do. We have long argued that if Congress wants to prohibit waterboarding and other techniques, it can pass a law doing so. President Bush vetoed legislation containing such prohibitions last year, but Obama won’t.”

Their editorial goes on to portray those engaging in the legal legerdemain that eventually determined that waterboarding was not torture as “struggling to determine what was legal and what was not under the imprecise language of then-existing federal law”.

I don’t buy that for a minute. I believe that the word came down to explore and utilize whatever means available to extract the information from those detained, and find a way to justify it under the law of man. The quotation at the top of this post drives my thinking in this regard.

That being said, should we be wasting time and human energy on targeting individual offenses, or working hard to eliminate the central facilitator of their moral affliction?

If we as a nation are truly committed to not engaging in torture or anything approaching it, then we need to codify that commitment so that it is clear and unambiguous.
Then we should
move on.

We should also refuse to be complicit in the attempts of others to extract what they perceive as “justice” from those who currently reside within our borders. I’m referring to the case of one John Demjanjuk.

I’ve followed this case loosely for several years. I believe that there is sufficient reasonable doubt as to whether or not the man did any of the things he is accused of, and at age 89 I agree with his family’s contention that to deport him overseas once again to face trial would amount to torture.

One way or another, by the hand of Man or of God, he will meet that God in relatively short order, and those of us who share a belief in that God must have faith that he will then be judged in accordance with whatever his actions were.
Leave him be.

If we truly portend to be “One Nation Under God”, then we should be listening and taking heed when His Word directs us to follow a certain path, regardless of how inconvenient that path may be to our earthly goals. This familiar passage from Matthew sums it up pretty well for me:

Matthew 6:14-15 (New International Version)

14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Have a good day.

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