Friday, September 22, 2006

Miscellaneous Torture News

In another earlier entry on the torture debate, I noted how conservative pundit Tony Blankley was proudly predicting how Americans would overwhelmingly side with the President on his pro-torture view. Initial polls indicate this was as wrong as I knew it would be. From Think Progress: "An NYT/CBS News poll released tonight shows that 63 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should follow international agreements on detainee treatment (v. 32 percent who think the U.S. should 'do what it thinks right, regardless of what other nations think'). Also, 56 percent say torture is never justified, while 35 percent say sometimes it is."

It is sad how low their opinion of the American people is, that these conservatives actually believed Americans would embrace torture as a rallying cry.

Meanwhile, the case of Maher Arar (a Canadian citizen who was abducted by the Bush administration and rendered to Syria to be tortured) has revealed again the rhetorical lengths administration officials will go to cover up their crimes and lies. A blog post by Andrew Sullivan sums up what a vile man our Attorney General is-
It's not easy dissembling as smoothly as the attorney general. But he outdid himself on Tuesday, when asked about the U.S.'s seizure of an innocent man at JFK airport, and deportation of him to Syria, where he was brutally tortured - sorry, subjected to "coercive interrogation techniques" with a metal cable. No one disputes the facts of this story, but Gonzales said Tuesday:
Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria. I'm not aware that he was tortured.
The New York Times takes it from there:
The attorney general's comments caused puzzlement because they followed front-page news articles of the findings of the Canadian commission. It reported that based on inaccurate information from Canada about Mr. Arar's supposed terrorist ties, American officials ordered him taken to Syria, an action documented in public records.

On Wednesday, a Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Gonzales had intended to make only a narrow point: that deportations are now handled by the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Justice.
Ohhh. I see. So it all depends on what the meaning of the word "we" is. Like the president's oft-stated position: "We do not torture."

Don't ya just feel proud?

On a related note, here's a less-than-pleasant headline from the BBC:
Iraq torture 'worse after Saddam'

Finally, from the Financial Times, news on why Bush winded down the secret prison program-
The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme.

The former officials said the CIA interrogators’ refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished...

...But the former CIA officials said Mr Bush’s hand was forced because interrogators had refused to continue their work until the legal situation was clarified because they were concerned they could be prosecuted for using illegal techniques. One intelligence source also said the CIA had refused to keep the secret prisons going...

This all makes me very ashamed.

And yet, if what the media says is true, the spotlight of this issue has actually helped the President and his party a little bit... because apparently just discussing terrorism is enough to qualify you as being "tough" on terrorism. In reality, of course, torture: a) is cowardly, b) doesn't even work anyway, and c) further destroys our credibility. Those fundamental points got lost in this lil' 'debate' that we had.

What a sad moment for America.

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