Did Pat Buchanan Just Say That Martin Luther King Would Approve Torture?

Buchanan's wrong on torture, and McCain erred too.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Pat Buchanan was just debating torture on Hardball and made what is—even for him—an astounding statement. Jonathan Turley was arguing that torture is illegal—we've signed a treaty outlawing and have prosecuted people for it in the past.

Buchanan argued that national security needs to trump mere laws. Then his mind-blower:

"There's a higher moral law here, that's what Dr. King was all about."

So...Martin Luther King would have approved torture? I suppose that's not literally what he was saying—he was saying that King ignored laws so it's OK for us to ignore laws too. But it's still ... wow. And: No. Sorry, you don't get to use his example to justify torture. Nonviolent resistance of unjust laws is not the moral equivalent of torturing because you think it might make you safer.

While we're on the subject, John McCain—ordinarily very good on torture—said today that prosecuting people from the Bush administration would make the U.S. like a "banana republic" because only in such countries are past administrations brought up on trial. But taken to its logical conclusion, McCain's logic is straight out of Nixon. Tricky Dick said that if a president does it, it cannot be illegal. McCain is saying that even if a president does something illegal (or his aides do), they should not be prosecuted.

I'm still thinking through how to investigate and what to do about the Bush administration torture policies, but McCain is wrong on this one.