Thursday, January 6

Considering the Memos (Part 2)

I've now had a little more time to look at Mr Gonzales memo's and to be honest, I don't see why this is raising such a stink. First of all, Mr Gonzales was part of the WH legal counsel. It was his job to look out (and request such memos) before anything occurred so that he could give accurate and fully prepared legal advise. Just because legal advice is prepared does not mean either the advice for an intended action or the action is condoned by either the WH or Mr Gonzales. As to the conclusions and arguments in the memo's themselves, they seem pretty tame to me. The first memo entails discussions about movement of persons (foreign or not) out of Iraq and how the Geneva Convention treaty might apply.

On the second memo, which is perhaps the more contentious. In this memo, the question being pondered is under which conditions are some specific codes are violated if torture is used on al-Qaeda suspects. The conclusion is that torture as described in the codes covers only extreme acts, and under what conditions those acts might legally be defensible. In fact it also concludes that it judicial interference in this may be unconstitutional (while noting that Congress would be able to write laws in such a way as to make these acts no longer defensible). On face value I find nothing odious, evil, or to quote Mr Moderate,
If you don't believe the warped minds that came up with these memos can't warp the U.S. Constitution the way they warped the Geneva Convention, then you are kidding yourself"
and he also noted
One of the other troubling rationalizations is that the discussion is revolving around terrorists, not soldiers. Therefore terrorists can be tortured to any degree. Funny isn't it that U.S. citizens can now be labeled terrorists and have all their rights stripped away without due process (the first one to go actually).
All I see is some legal wrangling about what is currently covered by statute. I don't see any "warped" logic or attempted deprivation of the civil rights of citizens. The memo as written expects that any "torture" applied will be tested in court and provides what it finds are the situations in which it would expect those methods to be allowed under the law.

What I do see as a subtext of the rhetoric of those who raise these memos as an issue is a complete lack of good will and trust with respect those in our military and Justice department. I don't think it is the policy of the justice department or our military will be detaining anyone intentionally without cause. Mistakes may be made, but I strongly feel that those mistakes will be for the most part honest. As to the memos, after reading the memos, I feel even more strongly that the attacks on Mr Gonzales are just partisan attempts to attack the Administration just because it's the thing to do and not any legal or patriotic dissent.

I think I will be writing just one more post on this subject. How should the Christian community find with respect to the ethical question of torture.