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Reagan Pentagon Official Opposes Torture

No, not Larry Korb. I’m not being cute here. I mean Ken Adelman, the former chair of the Reagan-era Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the guy who said conquering Iraq would be a cakewalk, the onetime Balki Bartokomous to Donald Rumsfeld’s Larry Appleton. That guy‘s against torture.

Adelman writes at Shadow Government:

I’m having trouble figuring out why staunch conservatives aren’t as outraged by the torture memos and practices as the American public. Maybe it’s because they’ve become so estranged from the public. Republican leaders have stumbled around, since the closing of the Bush era, much like a duck whacked on the head, as Abraham Lincoln once quipped about one of his generals who was chasing Lee’s forces. Or maybe it’s because of high, and justified, concerns over national security. Or considerable, again justified, preference for presidential leadership over that of the Congress (especially one with the twin faces of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid).

I have my own suspicions, centering around moral turpitude and repressed sexuality. See, for instance, the Raekwon/Method Man “Torture” skit on the first Wu-Tang record. But anyway.

The conservatism of Goldwater, like all American conservatism, stressed limited government — not only in programs and budgets, but also in the power and reach of the state. Hence it leads to firm stands on civil liberties, perhaps even stronger than among the liberal left (though there continues to be lots of overlap). The staunch conservative Bill Safire, for instance, was just as staunch a civil libertarian. We didn’t want government strong enough to control, or even poke around, in our personal lives — let alone having enough power to torture citizens.

So the conservative jaw should drop when Philip Zelikow — who knows both the law and the anti-terrorism field — concludes that these Justice Department memos legally empower the government to subject American citizens to the same “enhanced interrogation techniques” as practiced on the terrorists. That’s such a gross violation of Goldwater-conservative principles as to make any of us still-believers wince, rather than ponder, explain, or (worst of all) justify. …

Torture is not only immoral; it’s not conservative. And conservatives shouldn’t be defending it.

And yet the conservatism of today, by contrast, thinks that your freedom is under dire threat by a return to Clinton-era top marginal tax rates and by not torturing people.

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