We ought to be manly enough to authorize the use of a certain amount force on terrorist suspects, but only to the degree consistent with our deepest national values. To strike a balance between the need to maintain certain principles without paying too much for it in terms of military advantage; remembering what cost in blood must be paid for keeping the national conscience clean. It is a cup that will not pass away. We will be called to account not only for our management of captives but also for whether we allowed them to kill the innocent while they grinned insolently before us. Both the tortured prisoner and the child blown to pieces by a terrorist bomb will accuse us on the Last Day. About the only thing we can do is our best. But there is no weaseling out, no escape from choice.The last line gets me: No weaseling out, no escape from choice. The difference today is that you and I do not have to actually make a choice about this matter. But 100 senators (who are men and women, after all, as well as husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and aunts and uncles) must. A president must. An attorney general must. Military commanders must. I was first drawn to an interest in politics during the first Gulf War, when I tried to imagine what it must be like to be President Bush (41), having to make decisions that would cost lives. Talk about between a rock and a hard place. I think Bush and Gonzales both were thinking about the line above - the one that is underlined - when evaluating whether the Geneva Conventions applied to non-state actors, the Al Qaeda terrorists.
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