More recently, President Bush vetoed a law that would require the CIA and all the intelligence services to abide by the same rules on torture as contained in the U.S. Army Field Manual.-- Leon Panetta, whom President-Elect Barack Obama's just nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The passage is from Panetta's March 2008 op-ed in The Herald of Monterey County, California. The title of the op-ed? Americans reject fear tactics. Yet Panetta may have a rocky road to confirmation. The best way to characterized the view of some Senate Democrats, among them the new chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Panetta's fellow Californian Dianne Feinstein? Reportedly, not thrilled with the choice.
The president says the rules are too restrictive, implying that the use of some forms of torture just could help avoid another Sept. 11.
But all forms of torture have long been prohibited by American law and international treaties respected by Republican and Democratic presidents alike.
Our forefathers prohibited 'cruel and unusual punishment' because that was how tyrants and despots ruled in the 1700s. They wanted an America that was better than that. Torture is illegal, immoral, dangerous and counterproductive. And yet, the president is using fear to trump the law.
The same rationale is used to justify eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without a warrant. The president has made clear that the failure of the Congress to pass this authority could jeopardize our security. Instead of trying to negotiate a compromise with Congress that would meet both our intelligence and privacy concerns, it is easier to threaten with fear.
(credit for New York Observer photo) (hat tip to Jamil Dakwar)