Monday, June 14, 2004

Torture works... no it doesn't... yes it does

Judging by the typical exchanges we've been having these past few days about the functionality of torture, it would seem that the memos are merely Socratic musings for our President's bed-time reading. Not true. These aren't Sandel-Rawls debates; they're carefully constructed legal briefs about how not to get caught. First, there's a summary dismissal of international law as not being particularly relevant for Americans, epecially the military, and then a detailed analysis of domestic statutes, signiicantly: "nonresident enemy aliens do not enjoy constitutional rights outside the sovereign territory of the United States." (p. 35).

Where are Amy Gutmann, Richard Dworkin and Michael Walzer when you really need them? Enjoying the summer holidays, no doubt. But here's what I googled out by Sheldon Wolin:

"I want to go further and name the emergent political system "inverted totalitarianism." By inverted I mean that while the current system and its operatives share with Nazism the aspiration toward unlimited power and aggressive expansionism, their methods and actions seem upside down. For example, in Weimar Germany, before the Nazis took power, the "streets" were dominated by totalitarian-oriented gangs of toughs, and whatever there was of democracy was confined to the government. In the United States, however, it is the streets where democracy is most alive--while the real danger lies with an increasingly unbridled government. "


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