Tuesday, September 19, 2006

'We Do Not Torture'

Amid news that we may be getting that 'compromise', more thoughts on the torture issue...

Andrew Sullivan posts a good clip of a prophetic scene from 1998's "The Siege", in which Denzel Washington plays an FBI agent speaking out against the draconian anti-terror measures being undertaken by the government. In the scene, he says to a General about to torture a suspect, "What if what they really want is for us to herd children into stadiums like we're doing? And put soldiers on the street and - and have Americans looking over their shoulders? Bend the law, shred the Constitution just a little bit? Because if we torture him, General, we do that, and everything that we have bled and fought and died for is over, and they've won. They've already won!"

Meanwhile, Gregory Djererjian sums up how I feel about all this insanity-
I try hard to respect the Office of the President of the United States, but it is truly a miserable wretch of a man who would threaten to disband the CIA interrogation program if he doesn't get his wish to eviscerate a good deal of Article 3 compliance thereto, as the President threatened at a press conference last week. This hullabaloo about "outrages against personal dignity" versus "shocking the conscience" is a tempest in a teapot. Outrages against personal dignity are like pornography, which is to say, you know it when you see it...

...Article 3 compliant interrogations have stood us in good stead for decades, and there is absolutely no convincing reason for a carve-out allowing the CIA to avoid compliance with its provisions. We know that Army Field Manual compliant interrogations are more than effective, and we know further that torture often leads to false confessions and unreliable information. So if Congress has the will to face the President down (which they must), the CIA interrogation program should be allowed to continue, but with the interrogations pursued in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Convention. This is, after all, how the uniformed services are again now (after belated remedial action) satisfactorily interrogating detainees. Bush, like a petulant adolescent who risks not having his way, is threatening to shut down the entire CIA progam if his gutting of portions of Article 3 doesn't prevail through Congress. Then, the cowardly pro-torture crowd, should god forbid a terror attack subsequently occur, will blame those noted anti-American appeasers and defeatists like John Warner, Colin Powell, Jack Vessey, Lindsay Graham and John McCain for allowing the carnage.

What he said. This is political blackmail on the part of our President, who is undoubtedbly one of the most vile men ever to hold that office. To demand we gut international laws and treaties for his own shortsighted political needs, claiming these decades-old laws are not 'clear' enough for him, is a low point for this country. He must be stopped.

Newsweek's top foreign correspondent Fareed Zakaria also weighs in-
A fierce debate over military tribunals has erupted in Washington. This is great news. The American constitutional system is finally working. The idea that the war on terror should be fought unilaterally by the executive branch—a theory the Bush administration promulgated for its entire first term—has died. The secret prisons have come out of the dark. Guantánamo will have to be closed or transformed.

The president and the legislative branch are negotiating a new system to determine the guilt or innocence of terrorism suspects, and it will have to pass muster with the courts. It is heartening as well that some of the key senators challenging the president's position are senior Republicans. Principle is triumphing over partisanship. Let's hope the debate will end with the United States' embracing a position that will allow America to reclaim the moral high ground...

Personally, I think it will be years before we ever get close to reclaiming the moral high ground. It will take diplomats and American politicians quite some time to undo the damage President Bush has done to our nation after he is gone. But stopping him on this issue (as well as others like wiretapping, etc.) is a necessary start.

Glenn Greenwald also has a great writeup on the loss of our 'moral authority'.

Finally, neocon kingpin William Kristol wants Republicans to embrace torture as their cause approaching the elections. A sad indictment of the small, radical cabal that has hijacked our nation's foreign policy.

(Oh, and someone should remind the President it's not even effective anyway, too.)

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