[saymaListserv] Why the McCain Torture Ban Won't Work

John Calvi calvij at sover.net
Wed Feb 8 12:05:47 JEST 2006

Dear Free and All,

Thanks for your letter.  Good to hear from you and receive your support for
the QUIT June conference. <www.quit-torture-now.org> Not only will the
McCain law fail to end torture.  Several other domestic and international
laws are simply being ignored.  The end to torture rests in the heartland,
not Washington.  Torture has never been legal in the US.  Jennifer Harbury,
keynote speaker for the QUIT conference, has detailed the legal aspects in
her book, ³Truth, Torture, and the American Way².  A brief history of
American torture can be read and downloaded for reprinting in pamphlet #3
from Historians Against the War website-

The Quaker Initiative to End Torture needs support- We need financial
donations for the June conference.  We need broad attendance from your
Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings.  We need minutes of support and
news from our website to be widely shared.  Please help us to gather the
energies needed for another great historic Quaker work.
Thanks, John Calvi
Convenor, QUIT

On 2/8/06 9:39 AM, "free polazzo" <freepolazzo at comcast.net> wrote:

> Dear Friends,
> 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.
> Blessings,
> Free
> "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
>> <http://www.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 significant pressure
>> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4645730.stm>  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 CIA "waterboarding"
>> <http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1322866>  techniques and
>> its December 5 exposé of the locations
>> <http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1375123>  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 "Iraqi nationals
>> <http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-interrogate24jan24,0,33
>> 66865.story?coll=la-home-nation> , 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 series <http://www.americanempireproject.com>  I
>> co-edit has just published McCoy's newest book, A Question of Torture: CIA
>> Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror
>> <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805080414/nationbooks08> . 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 Tomdispatch piece
>> <http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=1795>  (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
> Click here to read more of this dispatch.
> <http://www.nationinstitute.org/tomdispatch/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=57336>

John Calvi
calvij at sover.net
PO Box 301 
Putney VT 05346 USA

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