George W Bush has vetoed a bill outlawing torture by the CIA. In his own words, he stated that anything was permissible that prevented another terrorist attack on the US. Americans are, tonight, debating the rights and wrongs of that presidential action.
Let me just repeat that last sentence, so the reader has an opportunity to truly consider its import:
Americans are, tonight, debating the rights and wrongs of that presidential action.
What that one sentence clarifies beyond question is that over the last seven years, America has become a society that condones the use of inhumane and cruel practices, labeled ‘torture’ under the Geneva Conventions, as an official part of their national defense strategy.
How has a once proud nation fallen.
Europe, for decades, has suffered intermittent terrorist atrocities, yet never once has torture become a debated issue in any European nation. The atrocities of Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan too clearly revealed the degradation of the human being who sinks to such levels. It is a matter few Europeans would even momentarily consider when discussing the combating of terrorism.
We can expect such low moral fiber from the likes of George W Bush. Anyone who, as a state governor, can openly mock the pleas of a woman condemned to die on death row is an obviously sick and depraved human being.
But what of the rest of America? Why is the question of torture even being debated in this nation?
The major reason debate is rife over torture techniques lies with America’s weak and wimpish politicians. So many of them refuse to come right out and condemn these practices, clearly and unambiguously, that a high percentage of the electorate, who rely on the communications of such individuals for their political and moral guidance, hear the hesitation of their congressmen and assume it must be an okay thing.
A similar situation exists in the right-wing churches where many pastors are insisting it’s God’s will that such practices as waterboarding are used against ‘evil’ and ‘ungodly’ terrorists.
When both politicians and churchmen are prepared to support acts condemned by the Geneva Conventions, it’s little wonder the populace are confused and begin to take sides over a matter that, in all decency, should never, ever, be an issue.
George W Bush is, thankfully, on his way out, so let’s examine the principles of those vying to take his place.
Can any of them be relied on to come right out and condemn, unequivocally, those actions of this present administration that are in contravention of the Geneva Conventions?
John McCain, the Bush alternative, has always opposed the use of torture techniques, including waterboarding, given that he was subjected to some rather vigorous examples himself back in the Vietnam era. We can assume his objections are rock solid – can’t we?
Sadly, John is given to sending mixed messages to the American populace, so his recent vote against the bill to ban the CIA from using such techniques perhaps comes as no great surprise. After all, he is running on a Republican ticket, and some rednecks just relish the idea of screwing a few of those Islamofascist bastards.
Republicans aren’t the only ones to pander to the neolithic base of their parties. Here’s what Hillary Clinton had to say recently on the subject:
This response from Ms Clinton outraged Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California-Los Angeles:
” The CIA just announced that it would no longer do waterboading. That clearly implies that the CIA was doing waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture. If HRC can’t say “No waterboarding,” her “No torture” isn’t worth the spit behind it.
The same goes for the cold cell, for “long time standing,” for “disappearing” people into secret prisons, and to “rendering” people to countries which we know practice torture. It’s legitimate to say “I won’t know just how bad things are until I’m President,” but it’s not legitimate to pretend that we don’t already know that torture is going on in our name, and that if we decide not to hold war crimes trials we at least need a truth and reconciliation commission to expose the facts.
Part of HRC’s problem is that the Bill Clinton regime didn’t have entirely clean hands, specifically on the “rendition” issue. But it now seems clear that if we want the country to make a clean break with current policies on maltreatment of captives, we can’t do so by putting HRC in the White House.”
Oh, dear, it seems that Hillary can’t be trusted on the issue either; no wonder Americans are confused.
That only leaves one other presidential contender – Barack Obama. Is he joining with his fellows in skirting the issue, insisting the truth of waterboarding and similar ‘enhanced techniques’ can only be evaluated once the White House is won?
In October 2007, while commenting on the possible appointment of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General, Obama stated:
“I have been consistent in my strong belief that no Administration should allow the use of torture, including so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like water-boarding, head-slapping, and extreme temperatures. It’s time that we had a Department of Justice that upholds the rule of law and American values, instead of finding ways to enable the President to subvert them. No more political parsing or legal loopholes. I cannot support Judge Mukasey unless he clearly and unequivocally rejects techniques like water-boarding.”
Throughout his nomination campaign, Obama has apparently remained consistent in his opposition to such techniques.
It would appear that Obama is the only candidate the American people can rely on to guide them in matters moral, as well as political.
Whether you love him or hate him, Barack Obama, at least for now, appears the only true embodiment of “what you see is what you get”.
Filed under: America’s shame