It isn’t theoretical anymore. Three American soldiers are hostages today, and God help them if their captors decide to play by our rules.
Will these three soldiers be taken by their captors to another country, to some faraway facility filled with the infrastructure of applied agony? Will they be handed over to men who know precisely how to make a nerve ending shriek, who extract screams from flesh like miners of misery? There is precedent if this happens; our government has been doing it for years. Bush’s people send prisoners to far-flung nations, where they are tortured without mercy, because that theoretical debate made this an acceptable practice.
Will these three soldiers be beaten, raped, electrocuted and murdered? Will their religious faith be used as a weapon of humiliation against them? There is precedent if this happens; our government cleared a path for the atrocities of Abu Ghraib, for the murder and rape and torture and humiliation which took place there, and it was that theoretical debate which made this an acceptable practice.