So it looks as if McCain, Lindsay, and Warner have gone along with a fake “compromise” that will allow torture.
The Republicans, of course, are openly chortling about how they’ve mousetrapped the Democrats. For them, this was never about national security; it’s always been about November. To some extent, it will certainly work. It’s not, after all, hard for a party with absolutely no moral principles to outmaneuver a party some of whose members still vaguely recall what it meant to be the proud citizen of a republic that had some respect for human dignity.
And no, I have no idea what the Democrats in the Senate should do about it, or for that matter what they should have done about it. I know that as a Senator I couldn’t vote for the bill; indeed, doing so might in itself constitute a war crime. But then I’m not a Senator.
One thing I am certain of: the claim that we can’t specify which torture techniques are, and aren’t, outlawed by the bill (for security reasons, you know) is absurd on its face. Unless a reasonable person reading a law can tell whether an act he contemplates doing would violate it, that law is, as the lawyers say, “void for vagueness,” because punishing someone for something he couldn’t know was a crime violates the Due Process clause.
At minimum, then, someone ought to stand up on the Senate floor and demand that McCain and his accomplices state for the record whether they think the law bans waterboarding (probably), sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and stress positions (probably not). There’s something to be said for defining just precisely how far down the road to Hell this country has gone under the able leadership of George W. Bush.
As to McCain, recall the words of Thomas Jefferson: .”Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.” Whatever courage, whatever principle, he once had he left behind him on the campaign trail.
17 thoughts on “Betrayed”
Those three guys never said it is immoral to torture people. They never said we do not want to be like the countries and regimes we have excoriated for so long and so loudly. They wanted to play semantics and do it but not have anyone think they were doing it.
HOW IN HELL IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING DONE BY THIS GANG OF KILLERS IN OUR GOVERNMENT AND WHY ARE WE DISCUSSING THEIR LATEST WATCH THIS CROTCH SESSION WHILE THEY DID WHATEVER THEY HAD PLANNED TO DO.
On things that's curious to with regard to McCain is why people think he once stood for principles but has now backed off from them. What's the evidence for that? Isn't it more likely that 'ol S&L John McCain was always a no-principled joker? Is it just that people don't want to admit that they were took by that bull-shit "straight-talk express"? It reminds me of people who think that deep down he really must be pro-choice since _they_ are and they like him. I just see no evidence he was ever a man of principle as opposed to a craven opportunist and hard-right winger.
Bush said he wanted "clarity".
I guess he got "clarity" of a special and particular kind.
Even more scary than the game just played on the American public by the amoral Republicans, is that people in the crucial center seem to vote for the person they like and feel good about. How else could we have gotten W over Al Gore and John Kerry.
I greatly fear that the Republicans have the personalities,in particular John McCain, regardless of the reality of their politics that will win them more time in the White House rather than in the jail house where they belong.
TOM, DID YOU MISS THE FACT THAT THESE BILLS WILL MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO TRY THIS GANG FOR ANY OF THEIR WAR CRIMES……WHY DID YOU THINK THEY HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD FOR THIS…..NOT SO THEY COULD TORTURE PEOPLE, AS THEY WERE DOING THAT, HAVE BEEN FOR A LONG TIME…..BUT TO MAKE US, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE CONSCIOUS COLLABARATORS…AND TO IMMUNE THE GANG FROM PROSECUTION.
Can't people disagree with you guys without being immoral, unprincipled, decievers?
No, Wow, if you disagree about whether it's okay to torture people or not you are infact immoral.
Go ahead, wow. Try it. Explain to all of us why torture is ok. We're all ears.
"Explain to all of us why torture is ok. We're all ears."
Pro-lifers often employ a similar tactic. They say, "explain to all of us why murdering children is ok. We're all ears." They conveniently ignore that the definition of "children"–and hence of murder–is precisely what is at issue.
The American people's elected representatives appear to have just completed a long, difficult debate about the meaning of the word "torture". Reasonable people can of course differ about the correctness of the definition they chose, and are completely entitled to criticize it and defend the alternative that they consider correct. But ignoring the debate entirely, and simply declaring that they endorsed "torture"–as if your definition were already the consensus definition–grossly and unfairly mischaracterizes what just transpired, and accomplishes little apart from muddying, polarizing and degrading the quality of the debate.
Explain to all of us why eliminating the writ of habeas corpus and denying anyone the right to invoke rights guaranteed by Geneva in court is okay.
Dan, with all that tax money of yours and mine floating around Washington and our ELECTED representatives cannot afford a dictionary where the heavy lifting has been done for them…MY ENCARTA SAYS…..to inflict extreme pain or physical punishment…..cause someone anguish…mental or physical….somehow I expect that would include waterboarding and the inducement of hypothermia if it were being done to you……now you may have a different set of values when judging torture for others as our ELECTED representatives clearly do.
I STILL WANT TO KNOW WHO IS TO APPLY THIS TORTURE…..ARE YOUR CHILDREN GOING TO TORTURE SCHOOL, DAN, MY GRANDCHILDREN, YOUR NIECES AND NEPHEWS, MARK, MINE.
WILL WE HAVE UNIVERSITY DEGREES, SCHOLARSHIPS.
In honor of Dan Simon, why don't we cast our minds' eyes back to my classic work to explain what's wrong with this grotesque bill.
Recall, if you will, a certain fragile, egg-headed individual who said "When I use a word, it means exactly as I intend it to mean; nothing more, nothing less".
Now picture a President, the only one in the 50 years since the inception of the GC (a span littered with various other domestic and international prohibitions against torture), demanding the right to arrogate TO HIMSELF, the sole ability to define what torture is.
Also ponder why, all of a sudden, said GC and other statutes either no longer apply and/or need specific interpretation (cf. plausible immunity), despite apparently working during 40 years of harrowing Cold War risks.
Also consider if we would countenance other nations treating our NOC CIA assets, special forces, and various other non-uniformed, semi-freelancing *operatives* in the GWOT in the manner we propose to permit this Executive to treat our captives. Now attempt to justify it by any means other than appeals to American exceptionalism or naked tribalism.
If one can come up with valid answers to those questions which would justify the measures just passed, then perhaps the legislation is not the abomination that it appears to me to be.
Moreover, in the case of the relentlessly-flogged, and absurd, "ticking time bomb" scenario, maybe we should just assume that the interrogator, if he or she is so sure that there is such a bomb and the prisoner knows about it, would do what is necessary to get the information, consequences to him or herself be damned. This is similar to the moral profundity of Lincoln's measures during the Civil War, in which he admitted that he was breaking the law, deemed it necessary, and accepted that he may have to face consequences personally at some future time.
We ask our soldiers and airmen to put their lives on the line to protect us in war, so what's wrong with asking an interrogator, in that one-in-a-million position, to put some of his or her liberty on the line to protect us? Whereas if there was a genuine ticking time bomb, the jury would probably never convict the interrogator anyway, legally sanctioning torture sends a signal that will inevitably result in its widespread use.
P.S. We should also ask why we don't just publish in the interrogation section of the AFM and CIA operations instructions specific techniques that ARE PERMITTED, rather than leaving it solely to the judgment of the President, who *knows torture when he sees it*.
It is mystifying why the Dems have such a hard time responding. This torture legislation is opposed by many parts of the political spectrum. How about something like:
"Torture, Its just plain UnAmerican!
George Bush and his rubberstamp Congress want to legalize torture and place our soldiers and operatives at risk.
In November you can vote for a Pro-Torture or No-Torture Congress.
Vote yes to American Values and No to Torture.
Vote Democratic? You mean Democratic as in Democratic party? You mean Democratic candidates who oppose torture as unAmerican and ineffective? I would if I could find them. Their silence is deafening. Where are Boxer, Feingold, Obama, Kennedy? We just lost the November elections–not to mention our national soul and the rest of the world that was still speaking to us.
Will we be like the Germans–who spent the next 20 years apologizing for their sins–or the Japanese–who still doesn't acknowledge that there were any? My money's on the latter.
A few degrees to the left would be helpful right now. While I do not carry any brief for the Dems, they are ALL we have at this point. You know and I know that a third party is not possible now, so if we want even a little change or even the possibility of change, then the Dems are it.
Here is how the filibuster should start:
How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, ships steer their course there, and trains thunder off to it &emdash; but all with nary a mark on the to tell of their destination. And at ticket windows or at travel bureaus for Soviet or foreign tourists the employees would be astounded if you were to ask for a ticket to go there. They know nothing and they've never heard of the Archipelago as a whole or any one of its innumerable islands.
Those who go to the Archipelago to administer it get there via the training schools of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Those who go there to be guards are conscripted via the military conscription centers.
And those who, like you and me, dear reader, go there to die, must get there solely and compulsorily via arrest.
Arrest! Need it be said that it is a breaking point in your life, a bolt of lightnin which has scored a direct hit on you? That it is an unassimilable spiritual earthquake not every person can cope with, as a result of which people often slip into insanity?
The Universe has as many different centers as ther are living beings in it. Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: "You are under arrest."
If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm?
The filibuster could go on for quite some time. It's a long trilogy Solzhenitsyn wrote, prefaced by the words: "In this book there are no fictitious persons, nor fictitious events. People are places are named with their own names. If they are identified by initials instead of names, it is for personal considerations. If they are not named at all, it is only because human memory has failed to preserve their names. But it all too place just as it is here described."
As for Dan Simon's request for a definition of "torture": ah, that's the interesting part. See page 4 of the McCain "compromise" ( http://natseclaw.typepad.com/natseclaw/files/Admi… :
"(D) The term 'serious physical pain or suffering' means bodily injury that involves:
(1) a substantial risk of death;
(2) extreme physical pain;
(3) a burn or physical disfigurement of a serious nature, not to include cuts, abrasions, or bruises; or
(4) significant loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty."
The kicker, of course, is that specification that the "extreme physical pain" must be caused by "bodily injury" — instead of simply cutting to the chase by forbidding the infliction of "extreme physical pain". According to Marty Lederman, that cloud of accompanying weasel words was included explicitly to enable the techniques specified in the fight(waterboarding, Cold Cell, [very] Long Time Standing, very protracted sleep deprivation) to continue to be used. It would presumably also allow the use of electricity applied to various portions of the body, including the genitals (provided you don't permanently "impair their function" by overdoing it) — as well as the injection of pain-inducing chemicals like Substance P.
McCain and crew have, in short, embraced the original definition of "torture" declared by Jay Bybee for the Bush Administration. (Stephen Hadley, speaking for the White House, has already contradicted Sen. Graham's statement that waterboarding is forbidden by the agreement: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/arti… ) And all this — with the sanction of McCain and company — can now be done to any detainee at the whim of a SINGLE man, with complete legal immunity.
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