Praying the Post

Reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee in one hand and a rosary in the other.

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Friday, November 04, 2005
A bad idea from a bad novel

Eugene Robinson says it for me:
Why does it matter how we treat a bunch of Islamic radicals who are sworn to bring death and destruction to the United States? It matters because the United States draws its strength and its moral authority in the world from its ideals. We preach about due process, we preach about the rule of law, we preach about humane treatment -- and now we're ignoring our own pronouncements.

But there's more at stake than American standing in the world. Our ideals are the heart and soul of this nation. We are not an ancient nation united by language or blood. Our ideals, rather than ethnicity or even territory, hold us together and make us a nation. When we betray those ideals, we weaken America.
The original news article includes this alarming description of the environment in which these black sites were created:
"We never sat down, as far as I know, and came up with a grand strategy," said one former senior intelligence officer who is familiar with the program but not the location of the prisons. "Everything was very reactive. That's how you get to a situation where you pick people up, send them into a netherworld and don't say, 'What are we going to do with them afterwards?'"
"Everything was very reactive" is a recipe for moral disaster, unless all those reacting are wholly virtuous people. Good ends give rise to dodgy means, which bleed into bad means, which lead to bad ends.

When played for laughs, it's called farce.