Who gets the benefit of the doubt?
The New York Times has just reported certain former military lawyers might oppose President Bush's attorney general nominee, Alberto R. Gonzales, because he oversaw memoranda that supposedly sanctioned torturing detainees. Swell.
With all due respect — and aside from any other objections that may be raised against the Gonzales appointment — I am fed up with the scapegoating of Mr. Gonzales over this issue.
Why do so many critics jump to the defense of this depraved enemy we're fighting, whether by leaping to the conclusion the Marine in Fallujah "murdered" the enemy soldier who could have been pretending to sleep, or presuming our government lawyers are anxious to condone abuse of terrorist prisoners? How about just once giving those in charge of managing our national security and those directly putting their lives on the line the benefit of the doubt?
What about the critics' outrage that the memo reportedly said inflicting moderate or fleeting pain does not necessarily constitute torture? For heaven's sake, this was a legal memo, not some advocacy paper. If the attorneys' research led them to that conclusion, we must not shoot the messengers for delivering their finding.
There is no evidence I'm aware of that the Bush administration ever approved of or authorized torture or abuse of prisoners. The fact that lawyers prepared a long, well-researched memo proves they and Mr. Gonzales were treating the matter seriously and conscientiously. That they candidly reported their legal conclusions, no matter how politically incorrect, should not subject them to ridicule.
There was simply nothing wrong with the CIA's questions or the Justice Department's earnest effort to answer them. Moreover, I honestly don't understand the righteous indignation of critics who are appalled that our CIA would even contemplate tougher interrogation techniques against monsters who kill women, children and babies for sport.
Please don't say engaging in harsher — but legal — techniques reduces us to the moral level of the enemy. What if such techniques against these unrepentant murderers could directly save your loved ones' lives? Don't tell me you wouldn't favor them. But if you do say that, remind me never to join you in a foxhole.