Greetings. I was watching the fine old Vincent Price / Roger Corman / Richard Matheson 1961 film collaboration Pit and the Pendulum last night, and somehow my thoughts kept coming back to the current controversies over the Bush administration and torture.
While the movie strayed far from Poe's original work, it still reminds one that it doesn't take an advanced degree in fingernail pulling to recognize torture when you see it.
Yet we are today faced with the sorry spectacle of Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, refusing to show enough guts to admit that waterboarding -- simulated drowning -- constitutes torture. He says it's repugnant... but won't go farther than that, and won't assert that it's illegal under U.S. law.
Let' s be very clear about this. The technique dates back at least to the Spanish Inquisition (speaking of pits and pendulums, indeed) and has long been prosecuted as torture in U.S. military courts -- since the Spanish-American war in fact.
The kind of hairsplitting, seemingly amoral waffling being demonstrated by the AG nominee suggests that he would fit in well with the Bush administration, but that he's unsuitable to serve the people of this nation as Attorney General.
You really need only ask one question to put these kinds of torture issues into perspective. What would the U.S. reaction be if we learned that captured U.S. prisoners were being subjected to similar "enhanced interrogation techniques" at the hands of our adversaries? Would we say "all's fair in love and war?" -- or would we be screaming "bloody right that's torture, you animals!"
You know the answer as well as I do. Case closed.