Torture Yes, Sodomites No

“We’ll stop at nothing to get the information…â€? Isn’t that what the villain says in the bad movie? And the good guy, he’ll never tell.

Intelligence is why we do it, right? We’re not the kind of nation that tortures people for revenge. Or to let some of our more violent people vent their rage. We do it against our better nature, because of the ticking bomb, because 9/11 changed everything.

It’s a new world where the old rules don’t apply. We have to get the intelligence. We can’t worry about quaint ideas of morality. Except sometimes. This is from an editorial by Stephen Benjamin.

I was an Arabic translator. After joining the Navy in 2003, I attended the Defense Language Institute, graduated in the top 10 percent of my class and then spent two years giving our troops the critical translation services they desperately needed. I was ready to serve in Iraq.

But I never got to. In March, I was ousted from the Navy under the “don’t ask, don’t tell� policy, which mandates dismissal if a service member is found to be gay.

Consider: more than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since “don’t ask, don’t tell� was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harm’s way?

These are strange times. We spare no expense for security, unless it interferes with business. We say we support the troops, but not with wise policy, or a good plan, or honest contractors, or honest government. The religious leaders who crusade against homosexuals on moral grounds have not raised their voices against the immorality of torture. We’re ready to trash the Geneva Convention and our own Constitution, but we throw people out of the military who could be talking to Iraqis in their own language. We tell our troops that they are there to win hearts and minds, and we leave them without translators.

Now we’re watching a candidate for Attorney General scratch his head and say he doesn’t know what waterboarding is. You’d think someone in his position would read the papers. It’s unreal. Our politicians seem so grateful that Mr. Mukasey says he would uphold the rule of law. It seems like setting the bar pretty low. But we’ve lowered our standards on torture, it’s become the first resort.