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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/16/09

Why isn't THIS memo front and center in the torture debate?

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You can argue whether or not the Cheney Clan is filled with a bunch of lying, cowardly, hypocrites who betray their nation when it's convenient.

You can argue whether or not the Bush Clan is made up of a bunch of lying, cowardly, conniving weasels who betray their nation when it's profitable.

You can debate whether Richard Cohen and Peggy Noonan substitute sophistry for sound judgment and pretend it's journalism.

But there are three things you can't do:

1) You can't ignore facts just because they are inconvenient.
2) You can't deny that USMC Major Sherwood F. Moran was a hero in WWII.
3) You can't continue to leave him out of any debate on torture.

Donald Rumsfeld may like to think he creates his own reality, but as a younger, and wiser, Donald Rumsfeld once declared:
Arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up.

If you are still looking for a sledgehammer to crush Cheney's conceit, here's the story and the memo that sucks the air out of any apologist's arguments for torture.

I have repeated this story many times since first learning about it from an article written by by Stephen Budiansky called Truth Extraction, originally published in The Atlantic in June, 2005.  The story is worth repeating -- because it is that important. 

The first time I wrote about it was on July 14, 2006.  Cheney was out touting the "one percent solution" and Dershowitz was out pimping the perverse notion of "torture warrants" as some sort of solution to this national disgrace. The second time was October 31, 2007. Michael Mukasey was pretending he had no opinion about war crimes that we executed people for in the past. The third time was January 27, 2009, after Richard Cohen test marketed Peggy Noonan's deceit and declared:

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

Like many lies, there is a kernel of truth to Cohen's deceit.  However, one thing is certain.  The past helped make us who we are today and we need to remember today is tomorrow's past.  The choices we make today will echo through history for a long, long time.

The choices made by men like Sherwood Moran helped make this nation what it is today.  Because of his choices and his actions, this American Hero and beloved friend of the Japanese people, made the world a safer place for people like you and me.  We may not be able to fill his shoes, but we can walk in his footsteps.  If enough of us make that choice, we will leave a path for those who follow to find their way into a better future.  

Turning our backs on him, forgetting the lesson of his example and ignoring the better angels of our conscience damn us to a bitter, lonely, dangerous, and degrading fate.  If we make that terrible choice, the people who will be forced to clean up the mess we leave behind will curse us for being cowards when we could have been so much more.

What I'm about to tell you is not just my opinion.  I have sent this story to many people, one of them was a former CIA agent who uses "Matthew Alexander" as his pseudonym.  He is well known for his first-hand account of proper interrogation techniques as described in his recently published book How To Break A Terrorist.  His supportive comments are included below.


We all know about the "one percent solution" and how it got generalized to every sphere of operations.  Anyone who tried to argue for sanity when it came to implementing torture was met with Dershowitz's "ticking time bomb" nonsense.

From there, it was a slippery slope to imminent threats, probable threats, possible threats, potential threats, and pretty much any thing else.  Strange that hypothetical scenarios would be used to justify policies of dubious merit. 

On the other hand, if the President and/or the Secretary of Defense are personally approving stuff then surely it must be legal, necessary, or at least useful...right?  Besides, we gotta soften these hard core cases up...and what better way than to use Man's Best Friend to scare the bejeezus out of a detainee, right?

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For starters, I am not the Henry Porter who writes for the Observer in Britain. I'm a native New Yorker living in Maryland. I used to believe knowledge was power. Now I know knowledge translated into action is power.
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