Back to News & Commentary

TPM Talks Torture

Share This Page
September 29, 2008

To say we at the ACLU are fans of Jane Mayer’s work would be an understatement. And clearly we’re not the only ones. This week at TPM’s Book Club, an impressive panel of writers and bloggers will discuss Mayer’s new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story Of How The War On Terror Turned Into A War On American Ideals. Panelists are journalist Christopher Hitchens (who knows a little something about torture), attorney and Harpers contributor Scott Horton; Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon; Attackerman blogger Spencer Ackerman; and attorney, professor and Balkinization blogger Marty Lederman.

Mayer kicks off the discussion with a doozy, noting that torture hasn’t come up during the presidential campaign:

…Understandably, this is a toxic subject, reeking of political payback. But I have personally interviewed CIA officers who have said they refused to partake in the “enhanced interrogation” program because they feared that eventually it would lead to criminal charges. They had seen this happen before, and wanted nothing to do with it, even if it meant in some instances, leaving the CIA. The threat of prosecution clearly acted as a deterrent. My question is what happens if there is no accountability for America’s first program of state-authorized torture? Does it send a green light to torture again when the next attack takes place? Is it an invitation to other forms of lawlessness by the U.S. Government? But, if top officials of the Bush Administration who were acting in what they believed to be the best interests of the country’s security, are now prosecuted, is that just? Will the public support it?

We’re curious about this too, and one of the reasons we launched our Constitution Voter campaign: to push issues like torture and “enhanced interrogation techniques” to the forefront of this election. Join us by signing the pledge; let the candidates know we care about these issues and want to hear how they would address them. What’s the plan to close Guantánamo? Will they bring those who authorized the torture of detainees in U.S. custody to justice? Will they ban the use of torture and rendition without exception?

Tell the candidates to address these issues now, while they still need our votes and support. Ask them the hard questions, and let them know they can’t ignore the Constitution.