[saymaListserv] QUIT - A tortured debate
nc_stereoman at charter.net
Mon Sep 25 08:27:17 JEST 2006
Similarly, our Meeting's most active peacemonger offers the following
essay from Daily Kos. I draw Friends' attention to her own admonition at
the end: "don't tell me you don't have time to save your country."
While I agree that torture has no place in the American Way of Life, I
think the current debate is more a symptom of what has gone wrong in our
nation since 9/11 rather than the illness itself. In discussion with a
Conservative fellow citizen the other day, I suggested that Muslims were
just as much a part of the American mosaic as any other religion. He
replied that Muslims have no place in America, because they are all
committed to destroying our way of life.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, many of them children, have
suffered torturous death and injury in Iraq over the last several years,
due to the destructive power of missiles, bombs, and other weapons upon
their person, their homes, and their civilian infrastructure. Let us not
forget that before this ill-advised war began, we were already waging a
different war, with a similar toll, in the form of sanctions. The
degrading and painful practices of torture against a few dozen, or even
hundred, people being held in secret locations for indefinite periods,
without charge, is a terrible blot on our nation's legacy, but how does
it compare in scope?
I suggest that the urge to resort to the practice of torture is simply
the 25th straw of a failed strategy, the strategy of using war as a
diplomatic tool. If our approach to foreign policy were based on
developing friends rather than enemies, of uniting rather than dividing,
we would not be having this debate today.
For those who are more politically oriented, who seek a change in the
partisan imbalance in Washington in order to restore the Constitutional
system of Checks and Balances that our nation is founded upon, I suggest
that there is a bright silver lining to the awful cloud of this current
"debate": the Majority Party has provided the challengers with a
knee-jerk slogan that is so vacuous that it cannot be argued away:
REPUBLICANS: THE PARTY OF TORTURE
I would never use such a slogan myself, as I detest empty rhetoric and
meaningless debate, but I recognize, ruefully, that that is all many of
our fellow citizens have the time or the inclination to absorb.
The essay fromDailyKos:
This week Senate Republicans have reached a compromise on torture
<http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/001587.php> with the Bush
Administration that effectively guts the Geneva Conventions and our
nations Moral Authority. If this legislation is signed into law - the
United States will officially become a /Rogue Nation/. A Terrorist
State that sanctions the commission of War Crimes, by simply
/redefining/ them out of existence. The President will be allowed to
become the /sole Deciderer/ of what is legal and constitutes a "grave
breach" of human dignity and what doesn't. Establishing law and fact
via Executive Fiat, like the decrees of an Emperor - not a President.
Someone needs to tell Senators Graham, Warner and McCain that what
they've just done by handing this authority over to Bush, /is the
equivelent of letting the head of the Gambino Crime Family define what
is and isn't Racketeering and Murder/.
From Federalist 47
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and
judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and
whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, *may justly be
pronounced the very definition of tyranny*.
Make no mistake - this is indeed tyranny - and will be a stain on our
national character that will last with us for generations, just as we
continue to live with the shame of the Tuskeegee
<http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762136.html> Experiment and the
Interment of Japanese-Americans
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_internment> during WWII.
But this... this is worse. We didn't torture the internees.
I'm almost at a loss for words.
The idea that the technique used by Jack Bauer on 24 are soon to become
part of our official anti-terrorism policy is shocking. And /mind
numbingly/ stupid as well.
U.S. officials do not use the word torture to describe their own
methods. Instead, American intelligence officials speak of
"aggressive interrogation measures," sometimes euphemistically known
as "torture lite." According to human-rights activists who have
consulted with Senate staffers involved in the negotiations, Bush
administration officials are trying to redefine the Geneva
Conventions, which bans "cruel practices," to allow seven different
procedures: 1) induced hypothermia, 2) long periods of forced
standing, 3) sleep deprivation, 4) the "attention grab" (forcefully
seizing the suspect's shirt), 5) the "attention slap," 6) the "belly
slap" and 7) sound and light manipulation. As NEWSWEEK reported this
week in its story The Politics of Terror, a harsh technique called
"waterboarding," which induces the sensation of drowning, would be
Thank God for small favors - no "Waterboarding". Yippee.
There is a one single good reason why U.S. courts do not allow for
coerced testimony -- IT. CANT. BE. TRUSTED.
The TV Show that Bush and his Cronies should be watching isn't 24 - it's
According to data obtained by the Innocence Project
<http://www.innocenceproject.com/causes/>, which has used DNA evidence
to exonerate 180 persons who had been condemned to death row, 35 times
(out of the first 130 cases - or 27%) there was a *False Confession* and
another 21 times (16%) the wrongful conviction was the result of *bad
information provided by informants and snitches*.
All indications are that part of the bad intelligence information
indicating links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, which led us
wrongly into a War with Iraq, were the result of the torture of Ibn
Gitmo - who was a "known fabricator" according to the Defense
Yet Administration Officials such as Cheney continue to believe
<http://thinkprogress.org/2006/09/21/senate-report-video/>, and our
President, the so-called "Leader of the Free World" claims with a
this agreement preserves the most single -- *most potent tool we
have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks*, and that
is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists
and to get their secrets.
More potent than actually protecting the ports, instead of handing them
over to the United Arab Emerites? Um,... not so much.
Both the New York Times and Washington Post seem less than enthused.
In editorials entitled "A Bad Bargain" (NYT) and "The Abuse Can
Continue" (WaPo), the two papers minced no words declaring not only
their opposition to the bill but its effect on the war on terror,
global opinion, and history's judgement of the president.
Washington Post: "In effect, the agreement means that U.S.
violations of international human rights law can continue as long as
Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent. If they do,
America's standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the
fight against terrorism. . . .
"*Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of torture and
bear responsibility for the enormous damage he has caused.*"
New York Times: "[The bill] allows the president to declare any
foreigner, anywhere, an 'illegal enemy combatant' using a
dangerously broad definition, and detain him without any trial. <bIt
not only fails to deal with the fact that many of the Guantanamo
detainees are not terrorists and will never be charged, but it also
chokes off any judicial review</b>.
"The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of
Republicans to do the lifting. *It's time for them to either try to
fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American
people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without
endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice,
or further harming the nation's severely damaged reputation.*"
In response to this issue when speaking with Keith Olbermann on last
nights episode of Countdown, former President Bill Clinton had this to say.
Clinton: Like you take this interrogation dealing. We might all say
the same thing if, let's say Osama bin Laden's number three guy were
captured and we knew a big bomb was going off in America in three days.
It turns out right now there's an exception for those kind of
circumstance in an immediate emergency that's proven in the military
regs. But that's not the same thing as saying we want to abolish
the Geneva Convention and practice torture as a matter of course.
All it does is make our soldiers vulnerable to torture. It makes
us more likely to get bad, not good information.
CLINTON: *And every time we get some minor victory out of it, we'll
make a hundred more enemies*, so I think these things, I really
think we need to think through all of this and debate more.
The point that has to be repeatedly made here - is that these men have
not been /proven guilty of anything/. They haven't been tried, in fact
they are being denied access to the courts -- habeas corpus, one of the
founding principles of our nation, is being scraped.
Even when the Military knows that some of these people, particular the
Ghost Detainees who have been kept hidden from the Red Cross, are
innocent of any connection to terrorism, al-Qaeda or the Taliban - they
have refused to release them.
_Majority of Detainees "Of No Intelligence Value" or Innocent_. One
statement refers to "a lot of pressure to produce reports regardless
of intelligence value." Brig. Gen. Karpinski's deposition also cited
the comments of another official, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, who
told her, "*I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians!
We're winning the war!*" A former commander of the 320th Military
Police Battalion notes in a sworn statement, "It became obvious to
me that the majority of our detainees were detained as the result of
being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were swept up by
Coalition Forces as peripheral bystanders during raids. *I think
perhaps only one in ten security detainees were of any particular
_"Releasaphobia" Keep Innocent Detainees Jailed._ One member of the
Detainee Assessment Board said people were afraid to recommend
release of detainees, "even when obviously innocent." Similarly,
Brig. Gen. Karpinski spoke of "releaseaphobia" on the part of a
review board. According to another report, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez
allegedly said of the detainees, "*Why are we detaining these
people, we should be killing them.*" The unidentified solider who
reported the comment added that it "contributed to a command
climate" where "deeds not consistent with military standards would
be tolerated if not condoned."
Former detainees, who were "rendered" to their native countries (Syria
and Egypt), where they were tortured and then released such as Abu Omar
were apparently the /lucky/ ones.
Tens of thousands of others, haven't been so lucky.
Hundreds of detainees have died in custody - including 26 which died
directly as a result of abuse
- and have been considered homocide. Under the War Crimes Act of 1996
these crimes are punishable by the Death Penalty.
From the ACLU's FOIA Documents:
Several statements refer to "ghost detainees" who died in custody,
including *one who died after being chained up in a shower area.
Interrogators packed the body in ice and "paid a local taxi driver
to take him away."* (Note: this report may refer to Manadel
a-Jamadi, whose death in Abu Ghraib has been widely reported in the
Is this how a nation that calls itself "civilized" behaves?
I didn't used to think so... but now I have little choice, don't I?
Instead of leading by example and giving the people of the world a
strong and compelling reason to hope and struggle to create the kind of
freedom, prosperity and democracy that exemplify the /best of our
ideals/ - we are now on the verge of departing from the ranks of lawful
nations, and becoming exactly what bin Laden and his ilk has long
claimed we were. We have become the "Great Satan".
Yeah, this will really change all those "hearts and minds' to our way of
thinking any day now. "Just Wait" is NOT a viable foreign policy.
Unfortunately I think time is running out, and if the Democrats in
Congress don't find a way to block the passage of this bill before the
end of this Congress -- Game Over.
Congressional Switchboard Toll Free: *866-808-0065 (Call and ask for a
Senator - but line may be busy) DON'T TELL ME THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TIME
TO SAVE YOUR COUNTRY!!
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