Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bush & Cheney Legalize Torture, Humiliation & Degradation

Need I say it again? Torture is wrong and immoral. It is evil.

Apparently Dick Cheney disagrees, or else he defines torture quite differently than does Webster's New World Dictionary, "Inflicting great pain."

Likewise for humiliaton and degradation. I keep thinking....maybe Cheney defines it differently than the rest of us. Maybe that explains the disconnect between what he says and what the world sees.

A sentence from this op-ed speaks to that....In the view of the administration, then, it is 'humane' to give a detainee 3½ bags of I.V. fluid and then make him urinate on himself, force him to bark like a dog, or chain him to the floor for 18 hours. "

Cheney and Bush say they use these techniques to fight for "freedom." Torture, humiliation and and degradation to take a stand for "freedom?"

When will we start asking ourselves as a nation.....What is wrong with these people? And what are we going to do about it? Why do we stand by and let these atrocities happen?
New York Times op-ed today....

Guantánamo's Long Shadow By ANTHONY LEWIS

When Vice President Dick Cheney said last week that detainees at the American prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were treated better than they would be "by virtually any other government on the face of the earth," he was carrying on what has become a campaign to whitewash the record of abuses at Guantánamo.

Right-wing commentators have been sounding the theme. Columnist Charles Krauthammer said the treatment of the Guantánamo prisoners had been "remarkably humane and tolerant."
Yes, and there is no elephant in the room.

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation observed what went on in Guantánamo. One reported on July 29, 2004: "On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more."

Time magazine published an extended article last week on an official log of interrogations of one Guantánamo detainee over 50 days from November 2002 to January 2003. The detainee was Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi who is suspected of being the planned 20th hijacker on Sept. 11, 2001, but who was unable to enter the United States.

Mr. Kahtani was interrogated for as long as 20 hours at a stretch, according to the detailed log. At one point he was put on an intravenous drip and given 3½ bags of fluid. When he asked to urinate, guards told him that he must first answer questions. He answered them. The interrogator, not satisfied with the answers, told him to urinate in his pants, which he did. Thirty minutes later, the log noted, Mr. Kahtani was "beginning to understand the futility of his situation."

F.B.I. agents, reporting earlier on the treatment of Mr. Kahtani, said a dog was used "in an aggressive manner to intimidate" him. At one point, according to the log, Mr. Kahtani's interrogator told him that he needed to learn, like a dog, to show respect: "Began teaching detainee lessons such as stay, come and bark to elevate his social status to that of a dog. Detainee became very agitated."

At a minimum, the treatment of Mr. Kahtani was an exercise in degradation and humiliation. Such treatment is forbidden by three sources of law that the United States respected for decades - until the administration of George W. Bush.

The Geneva Conventions, which protect people captured in conflict, prohibit "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment." The scope of that clause's legal obligation has been debated, but previous American governments abided by it. President Bush decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban members who are detained at Guantánamo.

The United Nations Convention Against Torture, also ratified by the United States, requires signatories to "prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction ... cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." The Bush administration declared that this provision did not apply to the treatment of non-Americans held outside the United States.

Finally, there is the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It makes cruelty, oppression or "maltreatment" of prisoners a crime. Armed services lawyers worried that some methods of interrogation might violate the Uniform Code and federal criminal statutes, exposing interrogators to prosecution. A Pentagon memorandum obtained by ABC News said a meeting of top military lawyers on March 8, 2003, concluded that "we need a presidential letter" approving controversial methods, to give interrogators immunity.

The idea that a president can legalize the unlawful evidently came from a series of memorandums written by Justice Department officials. They argued, among other things, that President Bush's authority as commander in chief to set interrogation methods could trump treaties and federal law.

Although President Bush decided to deny detainees at Guantánamo the protection of the Geneva Conventions, he did order that they must be treated "humanely." The Pentagon, responding to the Time magazine article on the treatment of Mr. Kahtani, said, "The Department of Defense remains committed to the unequivocal standard of humane treatment for all detainees, and Kahtani's interrogation plan was guided by that strict standard."

In the view of the administration, then, it is "humane" to give a detainee 3½ bags of I.V. fluid and then make him urinate on himself, force him to bark like a dog, or chain him to the floor for 18 hours.

No one can seriously doubt now that cruelties and indignities have been inflicted on prisoners at Guantánamo. Nor is there any doubt that worse has happened elsewhere - prisoners beaten to death by American soldiers, untold others held in secret locations by the Central Intelligence Agency, others rendered to be tortured by governments such as Uzbekistan's.

Since the widespread outrage over the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Americans have seemingly ceased to care. It was reported yesterday that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former American commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal, is being considered for promotion. Many people would say the mistreatment of Mohamed al-Kahtani, or of suspects who might well be innocent, is justified in a war with terrorists. Morality is outweighed by necessity.

The moral cost is not so easily put aside. We Americans have a sense of ourselves as a moral people. We have led the way in the fight for human rights in the world. Mistreating prisoners makes the world see our moral claims as hypocrisy.

Beyond morality, there is the essential role of law in a democracy, especially in American democracy. This country has no ancient mythology to hold it together, no kings or queens. We have had the law to revere. No government, we tell ourselves, is above the law.

Over many years the United States has worked to persuade and compel governments around the world to abide by the rules. By spurning our own rules, we put that effort at risk.

What Justice Louis Brandeis said about law at home applies internationally as well: "If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!