Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What Have YOU Done to Stop US Torture?

What does it say about the soul of America that we commit and permit heinous torture? What does it say about our morality as a nation?

How can leadership that professes to be Christian be so far from the teaching of Jesus? How can one claim to support the "sanctity of life," yet turn a blind eye to these extreme cruelties toward God-given life?

How can anyone, Republican or Democrat, condone the torture practices and procedures of the Bush administration? Where is the moral outrage??? Decency transcends petty politics.

Mid-20th century Germans turned their heads and ignored the realities of popular nationalistic country leadership. They went to movies and sports events, raised their children, made love to their spouses....even attended church. Life went on as normal. How are we different?

Torture practices have always been war crimes, committed by the most reviled war criminals, illegal in the world court of opinion and law, abhorrent to good men and women. Is this now acceptable to US citizens?

Why are YOU allowing it? Have you contacted your elected representatives? Have you or your church prayed for an end to this American-caused moral abyss?

If we know about this torture and yet do nothing....we remain silent and go on with our comfortable, pretty lives....are we any less responsible than the Bush Administration that coordinates and tolerates the torture?

Why don't we care? Have we grown callous from our richness? Arrogant and prideful from our power?
From the Center for American Progress....Torture At Home And Abroad

Over the weekend the New York Times reported on evidence that the United States has regularly sent terror suspects to Uzbekistan, an "authoritarian state" known for beating and asphyxiating prisoners, boiling body parts, using electroshock on genitals and "plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers." The State Department's 2005 report on Uzbekistan states bluntly: "The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique."

But Uzbekistan's role as a "surrogate jailer" for the United States has been "confirmed by a half-dozen current and former intelligence officials working in Europe, the Middle East and the United States." The Uzbekistan renditions are the latest in a spate of troublesome allegations about U.S. treatment of detainees, just days after the one-year anniversary of Abu Ghraib. The Uzbekistan renditions are the latest in a spate of troublesome allegations about U.S. treatment of detainees, just days after the one-year anniversary of Abu Ghraib.

STATE OF DENIAL: In recent weeks, President Bush asserted that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." Transfers to Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, seem to contradict that statement. Instead, they're another part of the Bush administration's controversial "extraordinary rendition" program, whereby hundreds of individuals have been taken by CIA agents to foreign countries like Egypt, Syria and Jordan, where torture is routinely practiced. Under President Bush, the rendition program has expanded, in violation of legislation passed by Congress, international treaties to which we are signatories, and the sovereignty of other countries that we rely on as allies. Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan with intimate knowledge of the Uzbek prison system, has accused the CIA of violating the United Nations' Prohibition Against Torture. In a memo to British officials, Murray wrote, "We should cease all cooperation with the Uzbek security services — they are beyond the pale."

ABUSE AT GITMO: The reports of abuse are not limited to foreign regimes. Sgt. Erik Saar, a soldier who spent three months in the interrogation rooms at Guantanamo Bay, told CBS' 60 Minutes this week that the approach of U.S. military interrogators has been "ineffective" and "inconsistent with American values." According to Saar and a series of FBI e-mails obtained by CBS, abusive methods and sexual humiliation are used routinely in Gitmo. Saar describes a female interrogator smearing fake menstrual blood on the face of a Saudi detainee, then depriving him of water so he could not ritually clean himself and pray that night. The FBI e-mails confirm Saar's accounts. Agents wrote of finding prisoners "chained hand and foot in a fetal position" for up to 24 hours at a time, and of prisoners who had "urinated or defecated on themselves."

THE MORAL BLACK HOLE: Abusive methods were allowed to occur at Guantanamo because of an atmosphere that has been described as a "legal, physical and moral black hole." Saar's account confirms the description. As soon as they got to Guantanamo, Saar says, he and the rest of the intelligence personnel "were told that the captives were not prisoners of war, and therefore, were not protected by the Geneva Convention." Asked what rules did apply, Saar said, "I don't think anybody knew that." One guideline interrogators did have: On Nov. 27, 2002, an "action memo" signed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "approved interrogation techniques that included 'removal of clothing' and 'inducing stress by use of detainee's fears (e.g. dogs).'"

NOT HANDLING THE TRUTH: The U.S. response to reports like Saar's has been denial and obfuscation. Vice Admiral Albert Church, ordered to inspect U.S. military detention centers worldwide last year, praised Guantanamo Bay as "an effective model" that should be replicated elsewhere. Church also absolved all senior officials of any blame in the matter of detainee abuse, saying it was "clear that none of the pictured abuses at Abu Ghraib bear any resemblance to approved policies at any level, in any theater." This is demonstrably untrue. Maybe Church was fooled by the staged interrogations where authorities at Guantanamo Bay faked the questioning of detainees "for visiting politicians and generals to give the impression that valuable intelligence was regularly being gathered

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