Now on the homepage: Letter from Rome, the editors on torture

We’re featuring two new pieces on the homepage. First, the editors on the release of and reaction to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture:

As for the enhanced-interrogation techniques themselves, the report informs us that they included not only waterboarding—for which the United States prosecuted Japanese soldiers after World War II—but also depriving prisoners of sleep for as long as a week; locking them up in coffin-size “confinement boxes”; keeping them shackled in stress positions for days at a time; threatening to kill their families; holding naked prisoners in cold cells (one innocent detainee died of hypothermia); [and] rectal hydration and feeding ….

Most people would call this torture. Not former Vice President Dick Cheney, who took to the airwaves to declare the Senate report a “crock” and insisted that the CIA’s methods didn’t amount to torture because they had been “blessed” by the Bush administration’s Department of Justice. Cheney says he believes that rectal hydration was done for “medical reasons” (which is false) but also insists that, because this particular technique never received the DOJ’s blessing, “it wasn’t torture in terms of it wasn’t part of the program.” For Cheney, it would seem, anything declared legal by Justice Department lawyers doesn’t count as torture, while anything not declared legal just doesn’t count….

Worse than Cheney’s logic, though, are his cynicism and shamelessness. Asked on Meet the Press whether it bothered him that 25 percent of the detainees turned out to be innocent, Cheney responded, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.... I’d do it all again in a minute.” Cheney is a man of no regrets and very few scruples. He believes that the end justifies the means. This is, not incidentally, one belief that defenders of torture share with defenders of terrorism.

Read all of “Shameless” here.

Also, we’ve posted Robert Mickens’s latest Letter from Rome, in which he writes on the occasion of Francis’s seventy-eighth birthday—and on the concerns about the pope’s age some are raising—and about speculation on the naming of new cardinals in advance of February’s consistory; read the whole thing here. (And remember, you can find and catch up on all of Robert's Letters from Rome here.)

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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