Monday, March 03, 2008

Bush Vs Petraeus

By Cernig

The NYT's editorial page yet again drives home the message that Bush and his administration are not mainstream when it comes to the question of "Enhanced interrogations" - or torture, to you and me. Bush is about to veto a bill making the US Army Field Manual's provisions on torture applicable to all intelligence services. Those provisions include a blanket prohibition of torture and specific bans on:
¶ Forcing a prisoner to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner.

¶ Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a prisoner, and using duct tape over the eyes.

¶ Applying beatings, electric shocks, burns or other forms of physical pain.

¶ Waterboarding.

¶ Using military working dogs.

¶ Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.

¶ Conducting mock executions.

¶ Depriving a prisoner of necessary food, water or medical care.
The NYT correctly points out that such practises are banned under international law, making their practitioners guilty of crimes against humanity and, in wartime, guilty of crimes for which the Nuremberg trials sentenced practitioners and orderers of such techniques to death. These torture techniques are also supposed to be banned under US law, under US provisions that say international treaties become binding federal law. The Bush administration have simply ignored the law or invented spurious new "designations" for detainees to try to argue that existing laws don't apply.

Maybe, as the NYT says, Bush should be listening to the many senior retired officers and officials who have urged him to rethink his veto. Or maybe he should just listen, as he has always said he would, to General David Petraeus:
“Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy,” General Petraeus wrote. “They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary.”
The Bush administration's use of torture - which is illegal no matter who is the victim - is the one clear reason, beyond all others, why impeachment should always have been on the table. More, each and every official and lawmaker involved in condoning or legalising such high crimes should face the full force of law. If that includes Dem leaders too, then so be it. Torture is a cancer deadly to democracy and freedom and should be something that is beyond partisan politics, a clear fork in the road between liberty and totalitarianism.

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