Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's official...

The only person with less political acumen than "screw the press" Stephen Harper is Michael Ignatieff, who (astoundingly) published another vaguely positive article about torture in the American Prospect.

Yes, he argues "I wouldn't be in favor of it because I think it's wrong", but then he turns around and says that others might disagree, and he also makes this howler:

Does an outright ban on torture and coercive interrogation meet the test of realism? Would an absolute ban on torture and coercive interrogation using stress and duress so diminish the effectiveness of our intelligence-gathering that it would diminish public safety? It is often said—and I argued so myself—that neither coercive interrogation nor torture is necessary, since entirely lawful interrogation can secure just as effective results. There must be some truth to this. Israeli interrogators have given interviews assuring the Israeli public that physical duress is unnecessary. But we are grasping at straws if we think this is the entire truth. As Posner and others have tartly pointed out, if torture and coercion are both as useless as critics pretend, why are they used so much? While some abuse and outright torture can be attributed to individual sadism, poor supervision and so on, it must be the case that other acts of torture occur because interrogators believe, in good faith, that torture is the only way to extract information in a timely fashion. It must also be the case that if experienced interrogators come to this conclusion, they do so on the basis of experience. The argument that torture and coercion do not work is contradicted by the dire frequency with which both practices occur.
In short: "People have been doing it for a long time. They believe in it, or else they wouldn't do it, and it doesn't matter that others (including former practitioners) claim that it's useless."

We've heard this sort of argument before. Never thought I'd say this, but...

Folks, meet Prof. Michael Ignatieff, THE ASTROLOGER.

Pity he doesn't actually do astrology. Maybe he'd be able to see how doomed he now is among the Liberal base. The torture issue is not something that you want to have around your neck, and now he's wearing it even more enthusiastically. This will tick off the liberal youth (who like Bush about as much as a herpes outbreak), tick off minorities (because they know who's being tortured, and it ain't statuesque blonds) and win him no friends among the more conservatives Liberals (who are more concerned with economic issues anyway).

He's an MP now, and should act like it. This is just sad.

Edit: Oh, and Warren is absolutely right. (Never thought I'd say that, but...)

It is not very often that one gets to witness a "leadership frontrunner" immolate his own candidacy so blithely, so recklessly, but if you click here and you peer inside, you will see the corpse of Michael Ignatieff’s vaulting ambition. He is done – and if he isn’t, he should be.
The defenses of "you took it out of context" are laughable. The entire piece does a better job of showing how much he likes torture than why he doesn't like it. Even it were true, the fact that he would say anything and not consider that he might have it used against him shows that he'd be a weak lawyer, let alone a lawmaker.

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