No Torture. No Exceptions.

Above is the cover illustration (although the Mac version of Adobe has messed up the color again–picture the headline in burgundy) for No Torture, No Exceptions, a collaboration of Washington Monthly and the American Security Project,

a non-profit, bipartisan public policy and research organization dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of a range of national security issues, promoting debate about the appropriate use of American power, and cultivating strategic responses to 21st century challenges.

Washington Monthly solicited 37 essays opposing torture from folks whose names you may not recognize, as well as the well-known, such as Jimmy Carter, General Wesley K. Clark, Chris Dodd, Richard Armitage, Chuck Hagel, Lee H. Hamilton & Thomas H. Kean (chairmen of the 9-11 Commission), Richard Lugar, Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson and Nancy Pelosi.

This topic is particularly timely, given today’s failure by the House to override President Bush veto (announced Saturday in his weekly radio broadcast) of Congress’s prohibition against waterboarding in the CIA authorization bill. Mr. Bush explained he had vetoed the bill because,

the danger [of terrorism] remains, we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists. Unfortunately, Congress recently sent me an intelligence authorization bill that would diminish these vital tools.

But despite the partisan vote on the veto override, this is not partisan issue. NewsTrust selected a piece from The Washington Monthly by Republican Bob Barr, the former Congressman from Georgia and a member of the American Conservative Union. He is one of a number of conservatives, such as Bruce Fein, who have been critical of Mr. Bush on issues such as privacy and torture. I always find it admirable when folks in either party are willing to look critically at the positions of their leaders and write about their opinions in a clear, considered fashion.

Interestingly, Barr points out,

The difficulty in resolving this controversy is immense, because administration officials won’t even discuss “torture,” preferring instead to talk about “enhanced interrogation techniques. Federal officials like the latter term because it is not defined in federal or international law (“enhanced interrogation” being essentially a made-up term), and therefore activities falling within its ambit are not—cannot be—illegal.”

The American Security Project has a blog post, “American Security Project Board Members Join Call for an End to Torture in Latest Washington Monthly Magazine,” highlighting some notable quotations from the project.

All of the contributions make for interesting reading and are available online at the link I’ve shown at the top of the page or can be downloaded from there as a single pdf file.

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