Saturday, April 18, 2009

Might want to check the forecast before going outside

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair describes the torture memos as basically historical documents which must be understood in the context of the benighted era of the early 21st century: “Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing.” He added, because it would clearly be an act of ethnocentrism to judge the people of that by-gone age by our own values, “we will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos.”

So what Blair is saying is that human rights apply only on sunny, safe days. On those rainy, unsafe days when the government might actually want to torture you, those are the days you don’t have the right not to be tortured. On a sunny, safe day when the government doesn’t want to torture you, you have a right not to be tortured. Enjoy it in good health.

In his telling use of the word “graphic,” Blair harkens back to Bush and Rumsfeld’s reactions to the Abu Ghraib pictures, when they were always clearly so much more concerned by the leak of images of torture than they were with the torture itself.

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