International

Hypocrisy on torture

The US State Department has just published its annual human rights report, a massively detailed resource documenting abuses worldwide in 2004.

Even the most skeptical should find it of value; after all it provides remarkably impartial evidence that America’s allies as well as its adversaries are committing and tolerating egregious violations. (See the reports for Colombia and Venezuela, for example.)

And as The Washington Post observed, the report “criticized countries for a range of interrogation practices it labeled as torture, including sleep deprivation for detainees, confining prisoners in contorted positions, stripping and blindfolding them and threatening them with dogs — methods similar to those approved at times by the Bush administration for use on detainees in U.S. custody.”

Yes. And if I may indulge in some self-criticism, I think the pro-war Left should be among those making the loudest protests about the continuing reports of prisoner abuse by US and British soldiers and operatives, as well as the odious practice of “rendition.” Perhaps the reason the abuse hasn’t backfired against us as badly as it might have is that treatment of prisoners in much of the Middle East is so much worse. And that’s hardly a cause for pride on our part.

The pro-war Andrew Sullivan, to his great credit, has grabbed the issue of prisoner abuse and torture, and refuses to let go. He has no patience with the pro-war apologists for these disgusting and, yes, un-American practices. He puts the rest of us to shame.

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