Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2009.
Recently, an Episcopal church in Bethesda, Md., displayed a banner with the following words: “God bless everyone (no exceptions).” I confessed to the rector of my own church that, try as I might, I simply could not obey this injunction. Judging by what he had to say about “enhanced” interrogations, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., N.C.) seems not to share my difficulty.
Mr. Graham believes that we’re either a rule-of-law nation or we’re not, and no exceptions. “I don’t love the terrorists. I just love what Americans stand for,” he said in an interview with Newsweek in 2006. His point was that our definitions of torture should not vary with the sort of person being questioned — terrorists, for example, or merely prisoners of war.
Mr. Graham’s position is similar to the one taken by Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney during the Civil War. In 1861, Confederate sympathizers in Maryland were burning railroad bridges, tearing up their tracks, and attacking federal troops so as to prevent them from reaching the national capital. Since local officials did nothing about this, Abraham Lincoln did. He ordered the military to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of John Merryman, a leader of the sympathizers.