In "The Right Approach to Rough Treatment," he grapples with the moral, legislative, and practical aspects of the detainee bill and offers some common sense solutions whereby virtually everybody on every side of this debate could come away reasonably satisfied. And all in a relatively short article in wonderfully clear and lucid language. A sample:
In any case, if a law bans the use of "alternative methods" even in the direst circumstances, it will succeed only in driving those methods underground. "Any president, Democrat or Republican, faced with really frightening, bone-chilling threat reports and credible claims that he can stop bad things from happening, is going to be very hard-pressed not to push his powers to the full extent of the law," says Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School and a former official in the Bush Justice Department. Responsible law-making respects not just human rights but also human realities.Read the entire article, as this excerpt taken out of context doesn't really do it justice. If I were an American citizen, I would be contacting my Congressman and Senators to promote Rauch's solutions.
My view is worth no more than yours or anyone else's, but here it is: The law should leave room for exceptional recourse to "alternative" interrogation techniques, while making sure that their use is genuinely exceptional. On that score, both the Bush bill and the Senate alternative improved on the post-9/11 Bush regime, under which the president made up the law as he went along and no one could say boo about it; and both improved on the Supreme Court's Hamdan regime, under which almost any sort of rough interrogation, however necessary, might be judged a war crime.
Both bills, though, made the same mistake: While concerning themselves quite properly with legality, they omitted accountability.
As a normal rule, I don't comment much on internal American affairs, for the simple reason that I'm not an American. I've made an exception for the whole question of torture for several reasons. First, the moral issues are so profound and could have such a major impact on the rest of the world in so many ways, that I felt it would be irresponsible to just look the other way. Secondly, foreign nationals, including Canadians, are directly impacted by American legislation and practices. Lacking a vote and a representative to affect the issue directly, I have to hope that my discussion of it will, in some small way, contribute to the best possible outcome.
Technorati tags: Detainee Bill, Jonathan Rauch, National Journal Group