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by Jeff Fecke | May 21, 2009 • You know, I’m not sure what Barack Obama did to get the newsmedia to have his speech followed by an address by former Vice President and current Sith Lord Dick Cheney, but he should do it more often. After all, a speechifying contest between Obama and Cheney is rather like a tennis match between Venus Williams and Chris Farley; one is in a league of their own, one of an elite few who can do what they do, and the other is dead (or undead, as the case may be).

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

Cheney gamely defended “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” actually, he pretty much just flat out defended torture, proving with one paragraph that he has no clue as to what country he lives in:

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

The irony, of course, is that America was founded on the principle that no, there were things that the American government could not do, that there were lines they could not cross. It would help prosecutors immensely if people could be forced to testify against themselves; if they could walk into your house and search it anytime they wanted; if they could simply present evidence against you to a star chamber, rather than to a jury of your peers. But the founders of this republic made the decision that these were things we could not do, even — and this is important — if it means some people will commit crimes that could have been otherwise prevented.

The fact is that Cheney, and those who embrace his sadistic philosophy, is simply arguing that the ends always justify the means. This, of course, is dangerously wrong; under this thinking, it is justifiable to snatch the children of suspected terrorists off the street, and to threaten to kill them, indeed to kill them, if it will make a suspect talk. It is justifiable to lay waste to a small village where a possible terrorist lives, if it will protect a larger American city. It is justifiable to do literally anything, so long as it can be said to protect American lives.

There is a reason that we have believed in a bright-line prohibition on torture, and that is simply that we believe the moral cost of torture is more damaging to America than any terrorist attack could be. It’s funny, but the party that claims to be the most religious seems the least aware of the concept of a soul, the idea that there are things that are, in fact, worth dying for. If I am alive today because we tortured someone, then my life was purchased at too high a price.

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