The Rage of Andrew Sullivan, And Hopefully of the Rest of Us

To remind us of what has been done in our name:

Pete [Wehner ] concedes that this administration has seized thousands of innocents, and tortured and abused many of them, and released many of them. But he has a secondary point:

The notion that Bush-administration officials were intentionally issuing orders and seizing innocent people to be picked up off the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq to be tortured and abused strikes me as absurd.

Now of course it may be true that the administration would, in an ideal world, have preferred that every person they seized was actually guilty; and that every person they tortured gave up accurate information. Police states would love it if this were true as well. But the point is that this cannot happen and has never happened in the real world – and recognizing this fact is a core principle of Western civilization. If you suspend the Geneva Conventions, give the green light to anything that will get intelligence, round up thousands all over the globe with reckless disregard for guilt or innocence, you are effectively and knowingly issuing orders to seize innocent people and torture them. Any president who decides to do that and then says it was not his intention to do that is a fraud or a fool. It matters not a whit what fantasy the president had cooked up in his own mind about what he was doing. This is what he was doing. Major Gen Antonio Taguba, trusted enough by this administration to run an earlier report on the abuse scandal, puts it plainly enough:

“After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Pete’s kicker:

[Andrew’s] rage at President Bush is causing him to ignore and reinterpret history and make statements that are simply reckless.

This gets this round the wrong way. My rage at Bush has not caused me to accuse the man of war crimes. Bush’s war crimes are what caused my rage.