[saymaListserv] Why the McCain Torture Ban Won't Work
a_lang at bellsouth.net
a_lang at bellsouth.net
Wed Feb 8 11:52:47 JEST 2006
Friends: I suppose I am the least political Friend I know among us here in
Atlanta, but I wanted to thank Friend Free for passing this information on
to us. I am forwarding this on to Gwinnett Friends, who just recently have
been discussing and studying Friends’ testimonies. I simply wish to remind
Friends that the treatment of all prisoners and conditions of prisons
themselves was historically a very real and active Quaker concern. Some
even gave their lives to visit prisons and decry the conditions. I don’t see
that this is any different. I pray we now heavily weigh in the Light the
fact Christ demands we treat and love others as we would like to be treated
and loved ourselves (on this hang all the law and the prophets), and forget
all political battles that could be offshoots of this concern, and unite in
working to change hearts so that torture is condemned, no matter who is
Gwinnett Friends Preparative Meeting
From: free polazzo [mailto:freepolazzo at comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 9:40 AM
To: sayma at kitenet.net; Atlanta Friends Meeting;
jewishfriends at googlegroups.com
Cc: calvij at sover.net; Chuck Faeger
Subject: fwd: Why the McCain Torture Ban Won't Work
This is not a pleasant topic. I don't like having to raise it with you.
My choice would be for this not to be an issue that is so close to home.
Yet there is very little discussion in the media about this topic and if
Friends don't take this up, then who?
We have heard about the conference, organized by Friend John Calvi of
Vermont, "Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) scheduled to meet in
Greensboro, NC June 2-4 at Guilford College
http://www.quit-torture-now.org/Pages/QuitWebAbout.html . It appears that
it is needed even more than I had previously thought.
There was a much heralded law recently passed by the US Congress and signed
with much publicity which purported to outlaw torture by the American
government and military. Senator John McCain's leadership was
instrumental in getting it passed. Under closer scrutiny, the law as
passed may have been a hollow victory.
I learned by reading the following article by Tom Englehard (aka Tom
Dispatch) how the new law may be just be smoke and mirrors which will not
end the practice of torture by our government. There are too many
loopholes and not enough accountability for those who order the horrific
acts "to preserve our freedom".
While our SAYMA Yearly Meeting won't meet in time to support QUIT, Memphis
Monthly Meeting has a minute on the QUIT website that other monthly meetings
in SAYMA could use to draw up their own. The QUIT website has more
minutes, too. See
http://www.quit-torture-now.org/Pages/QuitWebEndorse.html . Of course,
SAYMA representative meeting does meet in Birmingham this spring and perhaps
someone will see way open to present a minute at that meeting.
"No one is free until all are free."
NOTE: Some of you may be on more than one list and I apologize for the
multiple mailings one day, a tool will be developed to do away with
"duplicates" that one receives from well meaning e mail senders).
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 00:53:53 -0500
From: "TomDispatch" <tomdispatch at nationinstitute.org>
To: "free polazzo" <freepolazzo at comcast.net>
a project of the Nation Institute <http://www.nationinstitute.org/>
To send this to a friend, or to read more dispatches, go to tomdispatch.com
Tomdispatch: Alfred McCoy on How Not to Ban Torture in Congress
Alfred McCoy, an expert on the CIA and its history of torture, has some
actual news -- the sort that's been sitting unnoticed right in front of our
collective, reportorial eyes. Last year's clash between John McCain and the
Bush administration over the senator's successful attempt to attach a ban on
torture and other abusive interrogation techniques to the Defense
Appropriations Bill was heavily reported. After all, it was a heroic tale of
a man -- himself tortured pitilessly earlier in his life -- who held off the
powers-that-be, rejected their attempts to amend his ban, and finally
triumphed by a handy margin in Congress. The ban, now in place, is the law.
End of story. Only one problem, reality turns out to lurk in the fine print
-– and the McCain amendment has some striking fine print that mainstream
reporters failed to attend to; in fact, McCoy tells us, it has a loophole
big enough to absolve torturers of their acts and, in combination with an
amendment by Senator ! Lindsey Graham, drive testimony obtained by torture
directly into our courts. I would call that news.
While the torture debate is somewhat in abeyance in the United States right
now, it continues in Europe. There, a major scandal brews over the ways in
which Eastern European countries were used as CIA secret prison sites,
European citizens and others were kidnapped from European soil, and CIA
"extraordinary rendition" flights used European air space and airports. All
this, by the way, seems to have happened with the support of various
European intelligence services which, by the evidence, may work as much for
the Bush administration as for their own governments.
The Council of Europe has deputized Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty to conduct
an extensive investigation of both alleged CIA "black" sites and Agency
rendition flights. His preliminary report to the Council on January 22
concluded, albeit tentatively, that six Agency aircraft had, since 2001,
made 800 rendition flights -- a level of covert activity far beyond anything
reported in the U.S. press. Marty is under
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4645730.stm> significant pressure
to get to the bottom of this scandal, which may end up producing more
torture headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. Moreover, various American
media outlets continue to investigate the torture story, insuring occasional
bombshells like ABC TV's sensational November 18 story detailing
"waterboarding" techniques and its December 5 exposé of the
<http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1375123> locations of
secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.
Finally, it's well known that only those in the lowest ranks of the military
are being held in any way accountable for torture practices mandated from
the top and overseen by top civilian, military, and intelligence officials.
Even at the lowest levels, accountability has proved, at best, a moving
target, as is clear from the most recent torture case tried in this country.
After Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush voluntarily surrendered in
November 2003, he was tortured with rubber hoses by
366865.story?coll=la-home-nation> "Iraqi nationals, reportedly in the employ
of the CIA," while Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr., 43, of the
U.S. Army looked on. Mowhoush then suffered other mistreatment before he
fell into Welshofer's waiting hands. Welshofer has since used the Nuremberg
defense -- that he was just following orders in coming up with "creative
interrogation techniques"! to make Mowhoush talk –- to explain his
subsequent actions. He forced Mowhoush, face-first, into a sleeping bag,
wrapped him in electrical wire, and sat on the 57-year old prisoner's chest.
After twenty minutes, Mowhoush was dead.
Recently, Welshofer faced American military justice for his crimes. While
tried on murder charges, he was convicted only of the lesser counts of
negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. These still carried a maximum
three-year prison sentence and dismissal from the service (which would have
denied him his pension). In the end, however, a military jury sentenced
Welshofer to no prison time and only a formal reprimand. He was given 60
days restriction to his home, office, and church; and a forfeiture of $6,000
-- apparently the going rate for an Iraqi life. No one in our self-professed
"no-torture" administration thought this worth a comment.
The American Empire Project <http://www.americanempireproject.com> series I
co-edit has just published McCoy's newest book, A
of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. I can
testify that, while the book's focus is grim indeed -- a half-century-plus
history of CIA torture research and how it was applied globally -- it is
also, simply put, riveting to read. It offers a window into an almost
unknown world that we ignore at our peril. I could not recommend it to all
of you more strongly. To get a taste of its early sections, check out
McCoy's previous <http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=1795>
Tomdispatch piece (from which the book developed) or read a Buzzflash review
<http://www.buzzflash.com/reviews/06/01/rev06017.html> of the book. Tom
Why the McCain Torture Ban Won't Work
The Bush Legacy of Legalized Torture
By Alfred W. McCoy
here to read more of this dispatch.
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