Editor’s Note: Mr. Blackwell served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission from 1991 - 1993.
This is a tale of two worldviews. It begins not unlike the opening paragraph of Dickens’ immortal work, A Tale of Two Cities. Schoolchildren once memorized these famous opening lines, back when schoolchildren memorized anything.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…
President Obama at his Hundred Day White House séance proclaimed waterboarding to be torture. His was a clear, unambiguous, declarative statement. In making that statement, he opened up former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney to criminal prosecutions, here and before an international criminal court. And not just these men, but possibly hundreds of others, including members of Congress from his own party.
Cliff May, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, takes a different approach to the question of whether waterboarding is torture or not. May was badgered by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. May’s answer is not as yes/no, as on/off as President Obama’s. May said it depends. May’s answer was more nuanced. Liberals used to like nuance, but that was when John Kerry was nuancing. Here’s how it went:
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