finally caved in to McCain on the issue of torture. Or did he? The
McCain ammendment only bans practices not allowed in the US Army
Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation, but the Army has already
approved a secret addendum to that manual.
In her forward
International's 2005 annual report Irene Khan, Secretary General
of Amnesty International spoke of the worldwide assault on fundamental
human rights. She says, "Nowhere has this been more damaging
than in the efforts by the US administration to weaken the absolute
ban on torture."
How do you
write an article condemning torture? It's like proclaiming that
the devil is evil. You shouldn't need to be told that. Accusing
Saddam Hussein of torturing prisoners is how the propaganda mills
inside Fox news and elsewhere drummed up support for regime change.
Fox didn't have to explain why torture is bad. Torture is an emotionally
charged word, and rightly so. Torture is a fundamental assault on
the human spirit. Many would see torture as worse than outright
What is painful
to watch is backers of this administration seeking to minimize or
justify torture as practiced by our own government. The first thing
they do is employ euphemisms: "coercive interrogation,"
"sleep adjustment," "stress positions." When
you hear "stress position" what images come to your mind?
"Stress positions" is what the Medieval Tower of London
was all about. Stress positions is what crucifixion was all about.
These practices are not "tantamount to torture," they
continues, "The US government has gone to great lengths to
restrict the application of the Geneva Conventions and to 're-define'
torture. It has sought to justify the use of coercive interrogation
techniques, the practice of holding 'ghost detainees' (people in
unacknowledged incommunicado detention) and the 'rendering' or handing
over of prisoners to third countries known to practise torture.
The detention facility at Guantánamo Bay has become the gulag
of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite
detention in violation of international law. Trials by military
commissions have made a mockery of justice and due process."
comment about "ghost detainees." In the 1980s the church
I belonged to in Southern California was working with refugees from
El Salvador. The US routinely denied asylum to these people because
we armed and supported the government that persecuted them. A term
we learned early on was "disappearance." Many people were
arbitrarily imprisoned or killed, but disappearance was different.
Disappearance is as much an abuse of families as abuse of prisoners.
If you are in prison, your family can have hope of your eventual
release. If you are killed, your family can mourn. But families
of the disappeared are torn apart emotionally: they can't let go
of hope, yet they constantly live with their worst fears. To support
foreign governments that practice disappearance is itself a crime
against humanity; to justify "ghost detainees" of our
own is to stamp our passport to hell.
I want to return
to my earlier thought. How is it that this kind of article is even
necessary? Why should anyone in this country need to be convinced
that the actions of this administration violate all that is sacred
in our national psyche, not to mention our laws? We want so much
to believe we are pure and righteous that we close our eyes to the
facts seen clearly by the rest of the world.
has given us a wake-up call. In presenting the 2005 annual report
Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA said,
"If the U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility,
Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to uphold their
obligations under international law by investigating all senior
U.S. officials involved in the torture scandal. If those investigations
support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official
who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them."
Is this realistic?
It's legally correct under international law. Perhaps such dramatic
action is not likely, but it brings into focus the double standards
at play. How can we as a people allow our leaders to violate human
rights with impunity. How can Republicans allow their party to be
rallied in defense of such policies? How can the Christian Right
close their eyes to evil and listen only to soothing words?
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