Jonah Goldberg

Now, I'm not sure why I'm even telling you all of this, because the facts don't seem to matter. At least not to Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, who all but accused Gonzales of favoring the mandatory disembowelment and relentless teasing of every POW everywhere. His policies, Ted Kennedy intoned, "have been used by the administration, the military and the CIA to justify torture and Geneva Convention violations by military and civilian personnel." Even Republican Lindsey Graham fretted that America had lost "the moral high ground" because of events at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. And the lament was endlessly raised that we were turning our backs on the Geneva Conventions.

As befits the funhouse logic of such hearings, a number of issues are being confused, conflated and confounded. First of all, most of the things that are being called torture are something a bit shy of torture. Being forced to sit in a cramped area until you give up valuable intelligence is rough, but this ain't beanbag. Being draped with an Israeli flag or even being "waterboarded" - where a detainee's face is surrounded with a wet blanket and he's made to feel like he's drowning isn't torture either. Our own cadets at the Air Force Academy have been water-boarded in training. The war against torture should begin at home!

Second, much of the stuff that does qualify as unacceptable treatment is not condoned by the White House or the Pentagon. The Pentagon is prosecuting the Abu Ghraib offenses, not defending them, and it has always said the Geneva Convention would apply in Iraq.

As for the Geneva Convention and Al-Qaida, you'd have to be higher than a moonbat to treat them as signatories to it. Everything they do is a violation of the convention. It may be fun to mug for the cameras and criticize Gonzales for saying that the Geneva Convention is "outdated" when it comes to Al-Qaida. But unless you think Khaleed Sheikh Mohammed deserves an allowance in Swiss francs that he can spend at the local canteen, you have to concede Gonzales is right.

Lastly, Gonzales' response to Graham speaks for itself: "I reject your suggestion that we are becoming like our enemy. We are nothing compared to our enemy."

I just doubt anyone heard it over the din of pious bloviation.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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