Sunday, December 04, 2005

Agonizing over Torture

When I read a headline like "Bush Seeks Compromise On CIA Torture Ban," the first thing I do is check to see if I read it right. The words "compromise" and "torture" in one sentence sometimes does funny things to one's perception. The next thing I do is hope that maybe the pointy-headed one will finally be coming down on the side of the real world.
Nope. Sorry. No such luck. "We are working hard in good faith on both sides to come up with an approach that can be supported by the president and the Congress, to both find a way to be aggressive in the war on terror and still comply with U.S. law," national security adviser
Stephen Hadley said on "Fox News Sunday." By "aggressive" we mean still able to attach electrodes to genitals, you know, in good faith.
Amnesty International would beg to differ. Amnesty's position on torture: "Torture is never acceptable and evidence extracted under torture should never be admissible in any court, except in proceedings against the alleged torturer." They suggest that "coercive interrogation" (another polite way of saying that whole genital/electrode thing) "is cruel, inhuman; it degrades us all." Republican Sen. John McCain, whose proposal for a ban on "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment of detainees was passed by the Senate in October over White House objections, said he would not compromise on torture. This comes from a man who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war. Kind of takes away that moral leg George and Dick have to stand on, doesn't it?
"We're trying to find a way ... Where we can strike the balance between being aggressive to protect the country against the terrorists, and, at the same time, comply with the law," said Mr. Hadley. It's that "striking" thing we're trying to get past, right?
I leave you with the words of UN Secretary General (remember those guys?) Kofi Annan: "Human rights law makes ample provision for strong counter-terrorist action, even in the most exceptional circumstances. But compromising human rights cannot serve the struggle against terrorism. On the contrary, it facilitates achievement of the terrorists objective by ceding to him the moral high ground, and provoking tension, hatred and mistrust of government among precisely those parts of the population where he is most likely to find recruits. Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it."

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