James Forsyth

Tortured thinking

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The debate over torture in the US has descended into tragic farce. Some on the right are so determined to always take the toughest position possible on any war on terror question that they sound like a Stephen Colbert parody of themselves. The most recent example of this is Deroy Murdock, normally someone whose writings are well worth reading, declaring that “Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud.”

When those sympathetic to Murdock called him out for this and said that while waterboarding might be necessary in extreme circumstances—the ticking time bomb and the like—it is not a good thing per se, Murdock waded back in to say

"I AM complaining that we do NOT waterboard enough. Yes, we need to waterboard more.”

Worryingly the leading presidential candidates on the GOP side—with the notable and honourable exception of John McCain—occasionally take the same glib view. Mitt Romney wants to double Guantanamo in size and Rudy Giuliani dismisses concerns over techniques tantamount to torture as being soft. (As Gerry Baker points out in The Times today, Giuliani has even taken to suggesting that the way he had mafia members questioned in New York City was close to torture.) If the war on terror is to maintain public support, then it has to be conducted in a way that is reconcilable with our values.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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