The Lady Speaks

Torture

While I realize that June isn't here yet, I can't seem to focus on a topic other than the United States' abuse and torture of those it holds in its facilities, and those held in 'friendly' territory.

While Dick Cheney tried to get exemptions for CIA operatives and 'others' – possibly private contractors (known in the olden days as mercenaries) George W. Bush tried to pretend there was no need for the McCain Anti-Torture Amendment because "the US doesn't torture" – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and the Vice-President's backroom chats with senators.

Even after announcing to Americans and to the world that 'the US doesn't torture' the President signed the McCain Amendment into law, but added a signing statement – one of 750 such statements that effectively nullified laws passed by a Congress dominated by his own party.

The signing statement read:

The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

In other words, "I'll do what I want, when I want, and you can't stop me."

Imagine how that looked to the world! A 'Christian' president – one who claims a deep faith – who authorizes the use of torture whenever he feels it's necessary.

Naturally, the debate ensued, with opponents of torture being pronounced soft on terrorists and unpatriotic. Often the 'ticking bomb' scenario was invoked: "What if the ONLY means of stopping another attack was the use of torture?"

As an appeal to emotion, it worked. People around the country, pundits and farmers, schoolteachers and news personalities, started thinking – and saying, 'Well, torture's alright in some instances."

No. It isn't.

Continue taking the 'ticking bomb' scenario to its farthest limits. What if we have in custody a man we know – through painstaking investigation and solid evidence – is connected to a terror plot. We know we have less than 24 hours to stop the terrorists.

Now ask yourself – how far are you willing to go? Electrocution, water-boarding, beatings…..you're okay with that? What if the timer hits 12 hours – will you go even farther? Pulling out fingernails, cutting off fingers, ripping out teeth with pliers? Still okay?

Drip acid on his body, sexually assault him using various objects, dip him into boiling water, cut off his hands, his feet? Can you still support this?

Now take it to the extreme: You know where the man's family lives – a wife plus three sons and two daughters. The clock is counting down, he still isn't talking, and you're desperate.

Will you hold a gun to his wife's head? Will you beat his children in front of him? Will you use all 'approved' methods of torture on his sons and daughters? Will you force him to watch as his daughters are raped by interrogators? Will you force him to witness his sons castrated? Will you shoot one family member to death every time he fails to answer a question?

I used "you" in the above for one reason – even if you do not torture someone with your own hands, allowing it to happen unchallenged, in our names, makes you and I – all Americans – complicit in the crime.

What justifications will be used to descend farther and farther into the abyss of despotic behavior? What rationalizations will we use to talk ourselves into re-drawing the line, over and over, in the quest to save American lives? Do we stop at 'pain approaching organ failure'. Do we stop at the murder of children of terrorists?

At what point does America become a worse threat to human life than the enemy we fight? At what point do we stop and say not one American life – or even a million American lives – is worth crossing that line?

For me, that point was long ago. No amount of American lives is worth the price of our nation's soul.

George Bush believes in a God who will, one day, stand in judgement of his actions. He should live in terror of that day.

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May 23, 2006 - Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Congress, Crime, Homeland Security, Law, Politics, Protest, Torture, US Military, War

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