Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Torture Report: This Era's 'Hiroshima'

Given my general state of disgust (see post below), I have little inclination to wade into the report by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility that basically absolves Bush Torture Regime legal architects John Yoo and Jay Bybee. Besides which, we've known for a couple of weeks that the report would state that the men merely used "poor judgment" in crafting memos justifying the use of torture, which is a far cry to the professional-misconduct allegations in the original report.

But letting the release of the report and commentaries about it go unremarked on would be poor judgment on my part, so I'll call attention to perhaps the best reason about why, its softened conclusions notwithstanding, the OPR report must be taken seriously -- James Fallows' view that it should be to this era what John Hersey's Hiroshima was to the post-World War II era.

Hiroshima, of course, was a definitive (if fictive) account of the atomic bombing of the Japanese port city and a must-read for people on both sides of the never ending debate over whether using this ultimate killing machine was morally appropriate.

As with Hiroshima, Fallows states, the Justice report should force us to confront what was done in the name of the citizens of the United States of America.

While there can be no absolutes in debates about the morality of nations harming others, let alone their own, my own mind is made up. As I argue here, use of the atom bomb was justified. As I have argued over and over in dozens of posts over the past two years, the use of torture was not.

Ahem, Dick Cheney and his mouthpiece daughter of course could not disagree more. As Fallows deconstructs the Cheneys' argument, since Hiroshima was necessary, the atom bomb should be our first resort in any international conflict.

No comments: