“I voted for torture” – Lynn Westmoreland

David Shraub  over at The Moderate Voice is quickly becoming my heads up person for finding boneheaded comments from elected officials. The latest comes from Lynn Westmoreland who was quoted saying “I voted for torture.”

From the Ledger Enquirer comes

The vote he referred to came last year on an amendment reaffirming the United States’ commitment to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The measure passed the House 415-8, with Westmoreland among those opposing it. The U.N. convention defines torture as intentionally inflicting “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental,” to obtain information or a confession.

Westmoreland said that definition is too vague and that he believes intelligence professionals deserve more flexibility.

We’ll just accept the fact that “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental,” is about as clear as treaty texts get. But Westmoreland tries to cuddle up to the White House by adopting the new ‘vague language’ and ‘more flexibility for intelligence officials’ taking points for a vote made last year. I wonder if the congressional record shows him using those talking points back then?

He managed to continue stuffing his foot in his mouth by saying:

“I think they should use the methods necessary to get the information from the people who know the information,” he said. “We’re fighting people that don’t wear a uniform. They’re not from a country. They’re not a recognized military. So I don’t know that the Geneva Convention even covers them.”

Let me get this right. If you’re not recognized military, it’ll be OK to torture you? Does this mean that if you, say, grab someone in an airport or on the border of a foreign country, cart them off to who knows where, torture interrogate them, you can then say – “not military, not our problem?”  Is that the take-home lesson here Mr. Congressman?

And even if THAT were acceptable, real professionals know that any intelligence acquired using torture is likely to lead at best to unreliable and at worst to misleading information. Could it be that the only people really interested in torturing these individuals for information (not fun and photo albums) seem to be based in Washington, not Iraq or Afghanistan?

Finally, were THAT argument discounted, there remains the reason for the measure in the first place. To keep enemies from having a reason for doing this to American service people and citizens. Obviously Mr Westmoreland doesn’t feel America needs to be morally accountable for its actions. Perhaps because Mr. Westmoreland abandoned his morals long ago.

I wonder if he is at least tortured by his conscience?

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