Monday, April 20, 2009

Torture and Government Regulation of it

Two interesting notions come out of this.

Firstly, the idea of prosecuting lawyers who advised the Bush administration is a dangerous, dangerous possibility. Their job is to determine what is legal and what is not. There are plenty of morally wrong things that are either legal or not enforced in this country (adultery, for example). There are also morally ok things that are illegal in this country, either by intent or because blanket laws are not perfect at discerning right and wrong in case-by-case situations.

The job of these lawyers was to determine if something is legal or not, not to set torture policy. Torture policy is the responsibility of enforcement and intelligence agencies, and, through oversight, the President and Congress.

Someone's interpretation of law is not wrong just because you disagree with it. Supreme Court Justices are different, because they set laws and interpretations of laws, to an extent. But lawyers merely follow precedent and wording. Given that a multitude of opinions on interpretations of just about anything is usually good, prosecution risks forcing lawyers down a path that the law doesn't specify and that may have unintended consequences. So that's bad.

The second regards the nature of torture and what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate interrogation, but I'd like to hear some opposing viewpoints on it first so I can make a more educated observation. So that'll come later.

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