Tuesday, November 08, 2005

'We do not torture'

What does your Bullshit-O-Meter look like when you read this?

The U.S. government is aggressively taking action to protect Americans from terrorism but "we do not torture," President Bush said on Monday, responding to criticism of reported secret CIA prisons and the handling of terrorism suspects.
The link has a photo in which our Car-Salesman-in-Chief appears to be trying not to smile as he lies his way out of another embarrassing situation.

Let's review. Bush says "We do not torture." At exactly the same moment, Vice President Dick Cheney is turning the screws on Congressional Republicans to exempt the CIA from language that John McCain (R-Ariz.) has proposed for inclusion in the military budget and the Senate backed by a 90-9 vote.

Here's the "McCain language" you've been hearing so much about. You can see why the administration objects enough to summon big Dick from his bunker.

(a) IN GENERAL.--No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.

(b) APPLICABILITY.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to with respect to any person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense pursuant to a criminal law or immigration law of the United States.

(c) CONSTRUCTION.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the rights under the United States Constitution of any person in the custody or under the physical jurisdiction of the United States.


(a) In General.--No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
(b) Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose any geographical limitation on the applicability of the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under this section.

(c) Limitation on Supersedure.--The provisions of this section shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section.

(d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.--In this section, the term ``cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.
By the way, all 9 "nay" votes were cast by, say it with me, Republicans. The Nay-voting Nine are as follows:

Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
James Inhofe (R-OK)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Ted Stevens (R-AK)

Here's hoping that these nay-voters embrace their record with pride and feature this particular vote frequently and prominently in all their future campaign ads. Feel free (it's still a relatively free country, after all) to contact these gentlemen and let them know how proud you are of them and how proud they should be.

The one abstention from the vote was Jon Corzine (D-NJ). Maybe he couldn't make up his mind. Or had car trouble. Or was abducted by aliens. Most likely, he was neglecting his day job while running for governor in New Jersey (it appears somebody noticed that former governors have a better shot than former senators at being elected president).

My, we are wandering far afield. Getting back to the point, Bush says "we do not torture" at the same time that Cheney is pressuring Republicans on the Hill to exempt the CIA from language that prohibits torture. The administration's stance is that "the measure would 'restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bringing terrorists to justice.' "

How? If you're not practicing torture, how does prohibiting torture restrict you?

Mind you, Cheney isn't trying to defeat the amendment entirely, he just wants the CIA to be exempt from its provisions. The CIA, of course, is alleged by the Washington Post to be running the network of secret prisons that the Bush administration won't confirm or deny even exists. The non-denial should tell you everything you need to know about the existence of these prisons. Have you known this administration to pass on an opportunity to discredit a critic? If the Post were wrong about these prisons, wouldn't the president (not Scott McClellan, the president) be saying so ad nauseum? Wouldn't the nine assholes listed above be passing meaningless resolutions condeming the "partisan attack journalism" of the Post? Wouldn't Fox News, Rush and Bob Novack have been deployed by now?

Note too the language of Bush's denial. He keeps saying that the way prisoners are being treated is legal:

"Anything we do to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law," Bush said. "We do not torture. And therefore we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible, more possible to do our job."
The reasons Bush can hide behind calling what's going on at the hands of American captors legal are that his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, he of the "quaint" Genenva Conventions, said it is; the fact that the administration has been creative in classifying its prisoners, calling them "enemy combatants" instead of "prisoners of war," thereby withholding the internationally accepted POW status from the prisoners; and their extraordinary policy of "extraordinary rendition," not just another form of outsourcing in which the administration lets someone else do their waterboarding cheaper and more efficiently, but by keeping prisoners off American soil, the adminstration deprives them of legal protections they would otherwise have.

So, when your president says "we do not torture," what he means is, "as far as you know, we don't practice torture, and no judge will say we do."

In short, to paraphrase a former president, it depends on what the meaning of "torture" is.


Blogger Eli said...

We think alike.

11/09/2005 11:17:00 AM  

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