[saymaListserv] QUIT - A tortured debate

Steve Livingston 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:


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
    specifically banned.

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 
Sheik al-Libi 
<http://vyan.blogspot.com/2005/11/tall-tales-and-hiding-truth.html> at 
Gitmo - who was a "known fabricator" according to the Defense 
Intelligence Agency.

Yet Administration Officials such as Cheney continue to believe 
al-Libi's lies 
<http://thinkprogress.org/2006/09/21/senate-report-video/>, and our 
President, the so-called "Leader of the Free World" claims with a 
straight face 
<http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060921-3.html> that...

    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.

    OLBERMANN:  Right.

    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
    intelligence value.*"

    _"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 
<http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/06/24/world/main703982.shtml> and 
Maher Arar 
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
    news media.)

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 

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