Yesterday Gary Bauer dismissed the idea that the US was torturing people by saying that what was being done was really no different that what happens at a frat party. Bauer’s statement was notable not only for its apparent support for such methods, but also for the fact that Religious Right leaders have, for the last several years, remained mostly silent on the issue as a whole.
But now the President Obama is in office, Bauer seems to have decided to speak out in defense of these practices and has penned two separate columns doing so today.
In the first, Bauer argues that torture is acceptable under the Just War Theory because it “creates a set of conditions that, if met, justify the use of force to save innocent lives facing imminent death” and offers this as an explanation of his point:
A Thought Experiment: You walk into your home to find an armed intruder threatening to shoot your spouse and children, trapped with nowhere to run. Fortunately, you have a gun.
You try to negotiate, but the intruder is in no mood to talk. His intention is murder.
You have seconds to decide. What do you do?
For many, the answer is clear. You fight to save your family. And most of us would call that self defense. Most Christians would agree that any action would be not only morally permissible, but also morally required.
Now imagine another scenario: You are a CIA interrogator facing an avowed terrorist who was caught in the act of preparing for murder. You know he has information about a plot to blow up an unidentified building in a large American city. Innocent lives hang in the balance.
For hours you have attempted to extract the life-saving information from him, but to no avail. The last option is one you believe will work: water-boarding, but you have only a few minutes to decide. What do you do?
Again, for most of us, the answer is clear. You do what you have to do to save those innocent lives, which in this case means water-boarding the terrorist. You are saving other people’s families.
Of course, this sort of “ticking time bomb” is an extreme hypothetical situation and, from everything we know, the use of torture and water-boading wasn’t done because CIA interrogators only had “hours” to stop to a massive attack. Waterboarding people 266 times takes, well, time.
But in this other piece, Bauer takes it a step further and claims that “liberals” don’t care about torture at all and really are just using this issue to attack the Bush administration. As proof, Bauer cites the Eleno Oviedo who spent 26 years as a political prisoner in Cuba where he was regularly beaten and tortured:
The Left would have us believe its support for the investigation and prosecution of Bush era CIA officials is rooted in principle. It’s about the torture, liberals insist, not politics.
But it is about politics pure and simple. If liberals truly detest torture, why do so many of them sing the praises of Castro’s Cuba, which today incarcerates and tortures hundreds of its citizens for the “crime” of promoting basic human rights?
Have those obsessed with alleged mistreatment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ever shed a tear for modern-day Eleno Oviedos, rotting in squalid prisons across that small island?
One could just as easily ask if Bauer had ever cared or written about Oviedos’s torture before he decided to use him in his effort to attack liberals and defend the Bush administration.
He then goes on to warn that if the CIA stops using torture and the US is attacked again, it will be “the Left” that will be entirely to blame:
All of this may be prompting many Americans to wonder: Is the political left more dedicated to imprisoning political enemies than to our security? … The Obama Administration’s decision puts innocent American lives at risk and makes another 9/11 more likely.
Is this really the game the political Left wants to play? If it is, then if (when?) America is attacked on their watch, conservatives need to be prepared to investigate all their sins of omission, all the things the Obama Administration failed to do to keep America safe, just as the Left is obsessed with the alleged malfeasance of the CIA under Bush.