I am simply flabbergasted at this. I suppose that we could at least feel we've taken the high road when the first dirty bomb hits our soil. We could be comforted at our goodness at the funerals. We could cheer our restraint in the economic chaos that would follow such an event. We could pat ourselves on the back as we deal with the cleanup and bypassing that huge black void on our maps for generations. We could celebrate the fact that we didn't waterboard or make a terrorist stay awake or stand for too many hours at a time. We could be comforted by our own goodness as we take our children, friends and neighbors to the clinics and hospitals for years afterwards as victims succumb to the radiation poisoning.
This is only a feel good law. It is designed as a symbol to others in our world that we are a good people. Even McCain says this.
"We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," McCain said earlier as he sat next to Bush in the Oval Office.There are three major problems with this. First of all, no one else in the world will believe this is anything other than a good will gesture, because, those people today that accuse us of systemic torture do NOT believe we are a good people. These people think we are imperialists, warmongers, racists and infidels. How much is this gesture going to mean to people so driven by hate?
Secondly, we already have laws in place on torture. Those that took part in the Iraqi abuse scandal were under investigation long before the pictures hit the television sets. Those that are found guilty are punished under current regulations. This law will not change the behavior of loose cannons in our military. Those persons will operate outside of the rules regardless. This law is only a restriction on those in our service that already abide by current anti-torture regulations.
Finally, not all methods supposedly banned by this agreement should be considered torture. Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, standing for hours at a time, loud noise, bright lights, etc., should not be considered torture. These approaches to information gathering produce no long-term physical damage, but can be very effective in gathering information.
So, we won't waterboard or make Khalid stand too long in one place. The only resultant change is that Khalid's jihadist friend is less likely to get revealed--and we should feel good about it.