Why Administration support for torture is bad

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Spencer Ackerman (via War and Piece):

All Guantánamo detainees, according to the Supreme Court, have the right to at least some access to the U.S. legal system. [Khalid Shaikh Mohammed], therefore, will pose an interesting test: Should his probable trial reflect the legal doctrine of the “fruit of the poisoned tree”–that is, will evidence obtained through torture be admissible in the military tribunals or not? McCain’s Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 says “of course not!” but Bush indicated in his infamous “signing statement” that he thinks he has the right to torture whoever he pleases. Now Congress will face a very unpleasant question: Unless it rejiggers the military tribunals to bless torture/coercion, KSM and other Al Qaeda figures might in fact be set free by the courts. Is Bush so cynical as to force Congress into the odious position of either setting the stage for murderers to walk out of Gitmo or blessing torture? Of course he is! (emphasis his)

There you have it, in one paragraph. When we compromise our moral high-ground, something, somewhere has to give. Let’s review the situation:

  • We capture high-ranking al Qaeda mastermind
  • We torture high-ranking al Qaeda mastermind
  • We transfer high-ranking al Qaeda mastermind from secret CIA prisons to Guantánamo, where he’ll likely face a trial or military tribunal
  • We must now decide whether information gleaned from the torture of detainees is admissable in court/tribunals
  • If not, we may be forced to set high-ranking al Qaeda mastermind free

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