WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — The White House found itself fending off questions on Friday about what Vice President Dick Cheney meant when he agreed with a talk-radio host that there was nothing wrong with dunking a terrorism suspect in water if it saved lives.
It never ceases to amaze me how, many people would rather that their family and children died a horrible, painful death, than cause a terror suspect some temporary discomfort.
There is, as always, the appeal to reciprocity.
Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said, “If Iran or Syria detained an American, Cheney is saying that it would be perfectly fine for them to hold that American’s head under water until he nearly drowns, if that’s what they need to do to save Iranian or Syrian lives.”
As if the governments of Iran or Syria would hesitate for a moment to do just that. Of course, the Iranians and the Syrians don’t have to worry about what the local Human Rights Watch chapter might say, and because anyone who did raise those concerns would be given a first hand look at how prisoners were treated, if they lived that long. A concern that Mr. Malinowski doesn’t face here.
But they wouldn’t really want their families to suffer instead of terrorists; they don’t expect that the victims will be their families. They’re pretty sure the victims will be someone else’s children, mine or yours, not theirs.
So, they will continue to criticize the way the U.S. does things, not because we are the worst or the most prolific violators. But because we can be safely criticized, and they need to be making headlines criticizing someone if they want to keep their highly paid jobs.