Santorum tells torture victim John McCain that McCain doesn’t understand how torture works

Torture supporters keep repeating the big lie that torture helped to find Osama bin Laden not just to re-spark the debate on the value of torture, but also to twist its terms in a way that assumes that it’s legal.  Which it isn’t.

The latest torturista to make the false claim that torture led to the identification of ObL’s location is former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.

The story starts in the middle of last week, when John McCain wrote an OpEd piece in the Washington Post saying that torture had nothing to do with finding ObL.  The next day on the floor of the Senate, McCain condemned former U.S. Attorney General Mike Mukasey for promoting the false view that torture helped to get the terrorist.

This morning’s news now brings Santorum’s absurd claim that McCain doesn’t know anything about torture.   Santorum embarrassed himself to no end by proposing that he, who never served a day in the military and specialized in domestic issues as a Senator, knows more about torture than long-time member of the Senate Arms Service Committee  John McCain, who suffered 5 1/2 long years as a prisoner of the Vietnamese and may have himself been a victim of torture. 

Santorum looked foolish, to be sure, but he accomplished his objective: to keep the idea that torture works in the mainstream media. 

Other than Santorum, up to this point, the only people to say that torture led to the capture of ObL 1) were part of the torture bureaucracy; 2) have been out of a position to know for years; and 3) have not seen the current evidence first-hand.   Santorum does share characteristic 2 and 3 with the likes of Dick Cheney, Mike Mukasey, John Yoo and Peter King.

So let’s be clear: All the evidence that has been released shows no connection between our torture and the identification of ObL. 

All the people who have looked at the evidence say that there is no link.

On one side we have this mass of evidence and on the other side the ostensibly lame attempts by the opposition to claim a little credit for what they could not do despite their torture, illegal rendition and the establishment of a worldwide gulag of prisons.  

Yes, to the average person, those supporters of the torture-found-ObL theories look pretty ridiculous, and especially Santorum.

But look what they have accomplished: the debate on torture is alive again and the issue at hand is: does it work or not.

The issue should never be “Does torture work or not?” (By the way, it doesn’t.)  Torture was and is illegal in the United States and goes against our basic humanistic principles as a country.  We do not argue about the efficacy of killing men who don’t pay alimony and child support and then giving their estates to their ex-wives.  And we don’t argue about the efficacy of selling our children to institutions of higher learning when they turn 12 to work as day laborers in return for a free education and emancipation at the age of 25.  Even if these policies did work, we wouldn’t implement them because they break our laws.  And torture breaks our laws and our shared convictions, as well.

As a society, we can not avoid being dragged into a battle with the torture-found-ObL crowd, because if we are silent, the lie passes.  In his recent comments, John McCain has not forgotten to stress that torture is wrong and illegal.  I don’t like most of his politics, but I salute the old soldier for reminding us that we shouldn’t shift the debate to “does it work or doesn’t it.” Because it doesn’t matter. It just ain’t right.

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