The executive order banning torture was the very first one signed by Obama, to improve America’s image abroad, explicitly repudiating a major policy of his GOP predecessor. The Romney camp is internally debating whether to rescind that order, which would represent a return to those policies. There are only five weeks until the election, and we still don’t know what Romney will do on an issue with far reaching moral and international implications.
Yes, Romney has said he favors going beyond the techniques outlined in the field manual. But we still need an answer to the specific question of whether he would rescind the executive order itself. That’s because, even if Romney says he would revive the techniques, if he doesn’t rescind the order it’s not really clear he could do that, for a host of reasons. For instance, he might say he’d use the techniques in certain situations — but the relevant agencies might be reluctant to defy the executive order or might not want to act if it didn’t feel there was a persuasive legal rationale for doing so.
Pareene suspects that Romney may raise the issue in the debates:
I think there’s a decent chance Romney will wholeheartedly embrace torturing the hell out of terrorists (and suspected terrorists and dudes who look like terrorists) at one of the upcoming debates.
Of course I hope not. But I fear the same thing. The neocons around him have made torture one of their central causes, and some are worried that if the Bush era is seen – as one day it will be – as a disgraceful anomaly in US history, then the wheels of justice might begin to turn and we might get some prosecutions of those who authorized the torture, as we are obliged to conduct under the Geneva Conventions.
Remember: some of those war criminals are trying to get back into power. They will be deeply invested in re-writing the narrative of America's moral standing, to bring us down to the level of countries whose leaders can torture mere suspects of terrorism and call it by its original Gestapo-created name, Enhanced Interrogation, which sounds better in the original Nazi version: verschaerfte Vernehmung. As readers know, this is a deal-breaker for me, as it should be for every Christian and every person lucky enough to have been born into the West's precious and unprecedented heritage removing torture from our police and military.