Tortured Debate (December 2005)

In a recent New York Post column the erstwhile conservative Maggie Gallagher pledged her allegiance to Senator John McCain in his bid to end what he calls the torturing of prisoners held by American forces.  This abuse, he says, should be remedied by forbidding any agent of the U.S. government from engaging in “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”

This is but the latest in a long string of issues on which the “maverick” senator has sharply and sanctimoniously rebuked conservatives.  These self-righteous policy crusades are no more than cynical pandering to Beltway media elites.  In a city renowned for its hyper-ambitious, self-serving politicians, John McCain’s recent obsessions expose him as first among equals.

On one hand he deprives American citizens of their clearly enumerated 1st amendment privileges (McCain-Feingold) and now with the other he wants to expand the 8th amendment (proscription of cruel and unusual punishment) to protect Islamo-fascist socio-paths.  In this current debate his positions would be merely irritating were they not so grievously dangerous.  The vague and subjective language McCain proposes and Gallagher endorses does no less than help Al-Queda re-write its training manual to aid terrorists in frustrating U.S. interrogators. (Indeed, the Al-Queda training manual found in England in 2002 instructs captured terrorists to make allegations of torture against the “security services.”)  In so doing he succeeds also in shifting international attention away from the monsters cutting off the heads of little girls (whose only crime consisted of attending a Catholic school in a Muslim country) and onto U.S. military and law enforcement personnel who not only risk their lives but must now also worry about prosecution and trumped-up civil-rights violation charges.

As if right on cue, Saddam Hussein is now accusing U.S. military personnel of beating and torturing him.  It is, alas, not surprising that John McCain would be singing from the same sheet of music as congressional Democrats, what is insidious, however is that not only has the butcher of Baghdad joined their choir, but that the hymnal from which they sing is our enemies training manual.  Whoever made the observation that politics make strange bedfellows could not have imagined the bed consisted of a spider hole.

Maggie Gallagher, for her part, continuously uses the word torture, which is already illegal under both U.S. law (18 USC sec 2340A) and international treaty. (Geneva Convention, Convention against torture UNGA 12-10-1984)  What are really at issue are interrogation techniques that confuse, disorient, and discomfort terrorists to make them more susceptible to questioning; nobody is advocating or condoning torture.  Yet bizarrely, Gallagher morally equates these techniques to forced abortions in China.

She also refers to the “strange code of morality” which would allow “the killing of a terrorist but not his stressful questioning to prevent further murders…” as Christianity.  As any student of Christian theology knows, St. Augustine’s “Just War Doctrine” states, among other things: “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”  Now, admittedly, I’m no mathematician or theologian, but by my calculations making a blood thirsty, mass-murdering terrorist stay awake for 24 hours in a

cold, dark room with a bra on his head is slightly less evil than letting several thousand innocent Americans be incinerated in an imminent terrorist attack.

As one of countless New Yorkers who lost friends on 9/11, I’ll conclude by quoting George Orwell: “If you hamper the war effort on one side, you automatically help out the other.”  Senator McCain and Maggie Gallagher should focus their righteous indignation on our enemies and not on those responsible for our protection.

About michaelstjoseph

Michael St. Joseph is the pen-name of a Catholic conservative citizen of the greatest country in the history of civilization. He has a law enforcement background and lives with his family in the New York area. He can be reached at
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