October 2, 2005

Torture Issue Building

Andrew Sullivan continues to draw attention to the issue of torture by U.S. forces in Iraq with todays column in the Sunday Times on the case of Ian Fishback. U.S. torture policy, and the responsibility of the Bush administration leaders involved in its formulation, has been a recurring theme for Sullivan, and coverage of the story in the most popular conservative blogs has been conspicuous by its absence, at least by my reckoning.

Widespread discussion of the issue may soon become unavoidable as Fishback's story gains exposure and the remaining Abu Ghraib photos are released, even for those who have been generally supportive of Bush's conduct of Iraq policy. The idea that conservatives should avoid discussion of policies that reflect badly on the administration because Bush's political enemies will do enough of that themselves should take a back seat to some bipartisan moral outrage if the torture situation is as out of control as it seems. Capt. Fishback is currently sequestered and under interrogation for exposing torture and abuse by American soldiers that was directed and sanctioned by their superiors.

I am not at all sure that the U.S. should hold itself to all Geneva Convention guidelines in this war against an enemy which is not a signer, much less an adherent to those guidelines. And I admit to being not well-read enough on the topic even to know if the "documented 36 deaths in interrogation" cited by Sullivan, and other claims of torture and abuse are disputed, or even acknowledged, by the Pentagon. But as much as I support the liberation of Iraq, I have to applaud what Sullivan is doing to draw attention to the Fishback case and the U.S. torture policies in general. As a country, we have to be better than this if we are to claim to be a force for good.

Read Fishback's letter to Sen. John McCain, and give some thought to supporting a soldier who is trying to do the right thing. You can email your message to supportfishback@aol.com. As far as I'm concerned, the message from America to the White House should be that we will not stand for the kinds of torture and abuse that are occurring, and that our policy on such matters should be public, clear, and enforced by the entire chain of command.

Sullivan has repeatedly called for Rumsfeld's resignation, and as much as that would delight and embolden Bush's political enemies, I must say that I am now inclined to agree. I fear that this issue could be debilitating to the war effort for years to come. Bush could seize the initiative and perhaps minimize the political damage if he addressed the issue forcefully, and demonstrated his sincerity to the nation and to the world by holding Rumsfeld accountable.

Posted by dan at October 2, 2005 10:33 PM