Sins of Commission and Omission

I’m sorry to bring up a subject that most of us (including myself) would prefer to ignore, but I have to register a protest. According to an Associated Press article, George Bush has admitted the use of the torture technique called waterboarding and said he would again waterboard Khalid Sheik Mohammed. KSM is among the worst of the worst of all time, but that doesn’t make waterboarding an appropriate or Christian response. And as a group of national security experts (retired high-ranking military officers) stated:

Waterboarding is torture. John McCain has said it’s torture. We have prosecuted foreign and American military personnel for waterboarding. We even prosecuted a sheriff in Texas for waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture and torture is a crime. It cannot be demonstrated that any use of it by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life. To the contrary, the misguided belief that torture saves lives has cost America dearly. It is shocking that former President George W. Bush said he would use waterboarding ‘again to save lives.’ When he authorized it the first time he sent America down the wrong road, battering our alliances, damaging counterinsurgency efforts, and increasing threats to our soldiers.

As Christians we are concerned not only with what is and is not effective, but with what is and is not faithful. Sins can be divided into two categories, sins of commission (what we do that we shouldn’t) and sins of omission (what we fail to do that we should). Under Bush, this country committed a sin of commission by waterboarding. Thus far, under Obama, we’re committing a sin of omission by failing to address it.