Thursday, September 21, 2006

Talk About Missing The Point!

George Bush is in the midst of trying to push legislation through Congress that will shield him from international law on the treatment of prisoners. With the secret CIA run prisons now out in the open and terrorist suspects having made their way to Gitmo where they will meet with Red Cross workers, it seems pretty clear that George Bush will, at the very least, be accused of war crimes. Could it be that his pet legislation now being forced on Congress is merely an attempt to insulate himself from future prosecution? Or is it just that this administration thinks that torture is good wholesome fun.

Most bizarre is watching traditional media miss the point completely. The Washington Post has been framing the issue as a political one, highlighting the rift within the Republican Party on this bill. And Chris Matthews held a discussion on Hardball earlier this week on whether or not we should torture prisoners! Never mind that it’s against international law, morally repugnant and dangerous to our men and women in the military, just about every interrogation expert agrees that it doesn’t work. Under fear of death and extreme physical and psychological duress, suspects will say whatever they think their interrogators want to hear. That is a waste of our resources as we chase down false leads! If Republicans can’t find their moral center long enough to be against torture on principle, perhaps the wasting of tax dollars will sway them.

Has having this corrupt administration in power for the last six years really degraded the public discourse to the point that debating whether or not America should torture prisoners is valid? That should be the shortest debate in history. No, we don’t torture and we never will! For an administration that loves to paint the world in black and white, they sure are presenting a nuanced position on this one! Again, is this just Alberto Gonzales trying to keep his boss from having to sit in the defendant’s chair? Even if this bill is passed, it can’t retroactively make legal what has already been done in violation of international law. I suspect that Gonzales knows this, but what else can he do at this point?

I’m also hearing and reading that this debate is good for Republicans. What?! Advocating torture is now seen as “tough on terrorism”?! The GOP has nothing to offer the American people other than that?! The theory is, if the Republicans can keep the debate centered on terrorism, rather than the economy and the war in Iraq, they will be able to keep control of Congress. I know that Americans have been trained by the media to focus on only one story at a time, but I can’t see how passing a bill that will endanger our troops simply to protect the President will be seen by the American people as a good thing. But maybe I’m just naïve.

The only thing I can figure is that Karl Rove’s promised October surprise will somehow figure into this debate. Perhaps a thwarted attack on US soil with the help of information gathered through the use of torture. Of course it wouldn’t be any more real than the punk kids in Florida labeled “terrorists” or the made up “liquid bomb” story that has resulted in travelers having to ditch all their shampoo and after-shave, but who cares? If it makes a good story, has the potential to scare people and even half of the voting population believes it, it’s all good! The Bush administration and the GOP controlled Congress have done more damage to this country than any terrorist could hope for. They have shown us what they are capable of, driving our economy into the ground, promoting war profiteering, proving that a hurricane is no match for the destruction their incompetence can produce, starting a war that they can’t win while getting ready to start another one and decimating any moral authority we may have had with the international community by torturing prisoners. Anyone that votes for a Republican this November is voting for more of the same, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could be in favor of that.


Anonymous david said...

What is most alarming is that the pro-torture faction claim to be true Christians. They no doubt have seen Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and felt outraged at Christ's suffering, but have no problem playing the part of Pontius Pilate themselves.

They should read Prof. David P. Gushee's 5 Reasons Torture is Always Wrong before they call themselves good Christians again.

The 5 reasons, in brief, are:

1. Torture violates the dignity of the human being.

2. Torture mistreats the vulnerable and violates the demands of justice.

3. Authorizing torture trusts government too much.

4. Torture dehumanizes the torturer.

5. Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures.

There are no exceptions.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

david and I agree,(imagine that!)

I once asked a catlover which of the non-torture techniques would they use on their cats. I also wanted to know what the US courts might think if you applied those techniques to cats.

It appears to me that the only reason animals are not tortured is because they cannot speak and tell their secrets. But then again, perhaps we just have not found the right methods...

6:51 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"Anyone that votes for a Republican this November is voting for more of the same, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could be in favor of that."

Just think of all those folks in the banking/credit card and other financial industries. Think of all those people in the oil, gas and pharmaceutical industries. Think about all those people connected with Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root, Becthel, etc. Think about the Waltons (Wal-Mart) and lots of others in the top-10-percent income strata. You better believe they want more of the same. After all, they've been getting the best government money can buy, with spectacular return on their investment.

Republicans have $66 million with which to flood the airwaves with attack ads a few weeks hence. All that money didn't come from middle-class John Q. and Suzy Citizen.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, we need to take the panties off the heads of the poor darlings, re-arm them, and turn then loose on the streets of American. That'll teach those Goddamn Republicans.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous david said...

Torturer's wickedness is founded upon the belief that the accused is guilty until proven innocent. The Catch-22 here is that torture can extract a confession out of the anyone.

Apparently the White House has announced a compromise with the Senators on the Detainee & Torture bill. I fear Gonzales has figured out a wording that Bush can neatly sidestep through one of his famous "signing statements".

Sadly, the premise behind torture invalidates the very principles the USA was founded upon. It presumes guilt, it violates the security of the person, it punishes by cruel & unusual means while extracting an involuntary confession, and it offers no redress to the innocent.

The Bush White House has turned National Security into a sick joke. About all a liberal can do is respond with Gallow's Humour and righteous indignation. For that, see Molly Ivins's A Tortured Debate

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone firing an assault rifle, RPG, or mortar at you has got to be guilt of something. Likewise for individuals caught carting bomb making materials around.

I read an article about a method of torture used during the Idi Amin regime. The victim was strapped to a table and an incision was made in his abdomen. A rat was placed over the incision. A copper pot was then placed upside down over the rat and fixed in place. The torturer then applied heat to the copper pot with a blowtorch. I leave it to the imagination of the reader picture how the rat attempted to escape. That’s torture. If one wishes to call forcing someone to listen to loud music forty hours a week torture, then, well…that’s one’s opinion.

The sense that I get here is that, forced between extracting information from a terrorist or watching thousands of Americans die, the terrorist walks. There must be some special Darwin Award for this kind of thinking.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, most of the top 10% are being seriously hurt by Bush.

To be helped by Bush, you have to be in the top 1/3 of 1%: more than $1,000,000/year income.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous david said...

I will not speculate, Anonymous, on the psychology of someone who takes such delight in describing hideous torture.

Under the Geneva Conventions, a soldier who fires an assault rifle, RPG, or mortar at the enemy is not guilty of anything. Non-soldiers who attack the enemy or civilians are guilty of crimes. However, the majority of prisoners in Guantanamo were not arrested by coalition troops but handed over by local civilians with only hearsay evidence.

The "ticking bomb" scenario is a red herring. It presumes foreknowledge and assumes torture will reveal the truth and not a clever subterfuge. And the probability of such a scenario being real is very remote.

Of course, I'm not surprised that Anonymous is more concerned with the "torture" felt by America's rich at tax time than by a Maher Arar being beaten, starved, frozen, or deprived of sleep. Poor Ken Lay! I weep at the injust he suffered. NOT.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

It's been widely reported and detailed in testimony before Congress that thousands of detainees were rounded up in sweeps by our soldiers who don't speak the language and have no time to investigate individual culpability.

As a result, thousands of hapless people who were in the wrong place at the right time, who looked suspicious, who were turned in by a fellow-Iraqi enemy, have been caught up in the coalitions' dragnet operations.

Turning the presumption of innoncence upside down because a suspect might be a terrorist is an intolerable perversion of our system. Long after we've settled matters with the terrorists, one way or another, we'll have to live with the consequences of undermining our own system.

11:33 PM  

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