Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Republican Idea of a Technicality

After AG Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 conspirators will be tried on U.S. soil, in U.S. federal courts (which have a 100% conviction rate in federal terrorist cases), the right rose in protest of the DOJ's decision, saying that there is a danger that the terrorists might be released on "a technicality". Let me translate what these people mean by technicality, for the naive amongst you: if any evidence is introduced in trial that resulted from the torture of KSM, who at one point was waterboarded 183 times--in one month!--all that evidence, and any evidence which was subsequently obtained as a result of torture, could be thrown out by the judge. If the government were not able to build a case based on evidence obtained independently of KSM's torture, then--yes--KSM could, theoretically, walk out of court a free man. But that's the price you pay when you jettison the rule of law and replace it with one man's sense of what is or should be lawful when the going gets tough.

If you are on the side of those who would consider torture a mere technicality, then I pity you and I fear you. Because if this country ended up in your hands it would cease (as it did for the eight year of the Bush administration) to be a country we should be proud of. It would be no different than any of the many post-Soviet Union "-stans", where torture is a staple of their undemocratic diet.

Those who believe that torture is a justified, effective mean of obtaining information would do well to read A Question of Torture, by Alfred McCoy.

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