Sunday, September 17, 2006
US imprisons AP photographer for 5 months without charges, no evidence
by John in DC
This is the kind of thing the Soviets did.
This is the kind of thing the Russians still do.
This is what Republicans stand for.
Hardly characteristic of the pre-Bush United States of America.
Monday 18 September 2006
" We know that the world would see this action as a U.S. repudiation
of the rules that bind civilized nations. We also know that an
extraordinary lineup of former military and intelligence leaders,
including Colin Powell, have spoken out against the Bush plan, warning
that it would further damage America's faltering moral standing, and
end up endangering U.S. troops.
But I haven't seen much discussion of the underlying question: why
is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?
Let's be clear what we're talking about here. According to an ABC
News report from last fall, procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators
have included forcing prisoners to "stand, handcuffed and with their
feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours"; the
"cold cell," in which prisoners are forced "to stand naked in a cell
kept near 50 degrees," while being doused with cold water; and, of
course, water boarding, in which "the prisoner is bound to an inclined
board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet," then "cellophane
is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him,"
inducing "a terrifying fear of drowning."
And bear in mind that the "few bad apples" excuse doesn't apply;
these were officially approved tactics - and Mr. Bush wants at least
some of these tactics to remain in use.
I'm ashamed that my government does this sort of thing. I'd be
ashamed even if I were sure that only genuine terrorists were being
tortured - and I'm not. Remember that the Bush administration has
imprisoned a number of innocent men at Guantánamo, and in some cases
continues to imprison them even though it knows they are innocent.
Is torture a necessary evil in a post-9/11 world? No. People with
actual knowledge of intelligence work tell us that reality isn't like
TV dramas, in which the good guys have to torture the bad guy to find
out where he planted the ticking time bomb.
What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its
victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they
want to hear. Thus Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi - who ABC News says was
subjected to both the cold cell and water boarding - told his
questioners that Saddam Hussein's regime had trained members of Al
Qaeda in the use of biochemical weapons. This "confession" became a
key part of the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq - but it
was pure invention.
So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?
To show that it can.
The central drive of the Bush administration - more fundamental
than any particular policy - has been the effort to eliminate all
limits on the president's power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the
president and the vice president precisely because it's a violation of
both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a
key element of U.S. policy, they're asserting their right to do
whatever they claim is necessary.
And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The
Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote
in favor of the administration's plan to, in effect, declare torture
legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along,
although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in
opposing the administration.
Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and
those opposing him on this issue is that he's willing to do what's
necessary to protect America, and they aren't. But the record says
The fact is that for all his talk of being a "war president," Mr.
Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make
sacrifices on behalf of the cause - even when, in the days after 9/11,
the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. His admirers
looked at him and thought they saw Winston Churchill. But instead of
offering us blood, toil, tears and sweat, he told us to go shopping
and promised tax cuts.
Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some
things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our
principles and our self-respect."
When Bush decides that a terrorist is anyone who opposes the coming
Banana Republic torture will come home .