Do Americans Have a Moral Conscience?

Succumbing to the dark side

Torture is a violation of US
and international law.  Yet, president George
W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, on the basis
of legally incompetent memos prepared by Justice
Department officials, gave the OK to interrogators
to violate US and international law.

The new Obama administration shows
no inclination to uphold the rule of law by prosecuting
those who abused their offices and broke the law.

Cheney claims, absurdly, that
torture was necessary in order to save American cities
from nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. 
Many Americans have bought the argument that torture is
morally justified in order to make terrorists reveal
where ticking nuclear bombs are before they explode.

However, there were no hidden
ticking nuclear bombs.  Hypothetical scenarios were
used to justify torture for other purposes.

We now know that the reason the
Bush regime tortured its captives was to coerce false
testimony that linked Iraq and Saddam Hussein to al
Qaeda and September 11.  Without this
"evidence," the US invasion of Iraq remains a war crime under the
Nuremberg standard.

Torture, then, was a second Bush
regime crime used to produce an alibi for the illegal
and unprovoked US invasion of Iraq.

U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R,Tx)
understands the danger to Americans of permitting
government to violate the law. In
the Rule of Law
  , he said that the US
government`s use of torture to produce excuses for
illegal actions is the most radicalizing force at work
today. "The fact
that our government engages in evil behavior under the
auspices of the American people is what poses the
greatest threat to the American people, and it must not
be allowed to stand."

One might think that the American
public`s toleration of torture reflects the breakdown of
the country`s Christian faith.  Alas, a recent poll
released by the Pew Forum reveals that most white
Christian evangelicals and white Catholics condone
torture.  In contrast, only a minority of those who
seldom or never attend church services condone torture.

It is a known fact that torture
produces unreliable information.  The only purpose
of torture is to produce false confessions.  The
fact that a majority of American Christians condone
torture enabled the Bush regime`s efforts to legalize

George Hunsinger, professor at
Princeton Theological Seminary, has stepped into the
Christian void with a powerful book, Torture is a
Moral Issue
. A collection of essays by thoughtful
and moral people, including an American admiral and
general, the book demonstrates the danger of torture to
the human soul, to civil liberty, and to the morale and
safety of soldiers.

Condoning torture, Hunsinger
writes, "marks a milestone in the disintegration of American democracy." 
In his contribution, Hunsinger destroys the constructed
hypothetical scenarios used to create a moral case for
torture.  He points out that no such real world
cases ever exist.  Once torture is normalized, it
is used despite the absence of the hypothetical

Hunsinger notes that
obtained by torture can have catastrophic consequences. 
In making the case against Iraq at the UN, former
Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the countries of
the world that his evidence rested on
"facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."  Today
Powell and his chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson,
are ashamed that the
for Powell`s UN speech

turned out to be nothing but the
coerced false confession of Al-Libi, who was
relentlessly tortured in Egypt in order to produce a
justification for Bush`s illegal invasion of Iraq.

Some Americans, unable to face the
criminality and inhumanity of their own government,
maintain that the government hasn`t tortured anyone,
because water boarding and other
interrogation techniques"
are not torture. 
This is really grasping at straws.  As Ron Paul
points out, according to US precedent alone, water
boarding has been considered to be torture since 1945,
when the United States hanged Japanese military officers
for water boarding captured Americans.  

If the Obama regime does not hold
the Bush regime accountable for violating US and
international law, then the Obama regime is complicit in
the Bush regime`s crimes.  If the American people
permit Obama to look the other way in order
"to move on,"
the American people are also complicit in the crimes.  

Hunsinger, Paul and others are
trying to save our souls, our humanity, our civil
liberty and the rule of law.  Obama can say that he
forbids torture, but if those responsible are not held
accountable, he has no way of enforcing his order. 
As perpetrators are discharged from the military and
re-enter society, some will find employment as police
officers and prison officials and guards, and the
practice will spread.  The dark side will take over

Paul Craig Roberts [email
] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan`s
first term.  He was Associate Editor of the
Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic
appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair,
Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded
the Legion of Honor by French President Francois
Mitterrand. He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author
with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.