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The Face of Torture

Torture has been very difficult for me to get my arms around. In spite of the relatively clear definitions of torture there are these odd words that appear in the definition like “prolonged.” How long is prolonged? And, as a friend of mine pointed out, being put in jail will surely cause mental suffering. Is that torture? I guess my answer is that society decides what is torture and what isn’t. We’ve decided that it is not acceptable to slap prisoners.

One of the problems in this “war on terror” is that we allowed the Bush administration to label terrorists as enemy combatants. We were allowed to dehumanize people who were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Once you dehumanize someone, it becomes much easier to torture.

If I have some time later on this afternoon, I hope to provide more clarity. Scott Horton, who has been on my radio show several times, has an excellent post on one of the extremes of torture —

In a recent television appearance, one of the nation’s foremost retired military leaders, General Barry McCaffrey, said: “We should never, as a policy, maltreat people under our control, detainees. We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.” The fact of dozens of homicides is frankly acknowledged in discussions with military and intelligence experts, but the press seems to regard the subject as taboo.

Writing at the Daily Beast, John Sifton takes us on a tour of the deaths that resulted from the Bush Administration’s torture policies. The Bush Justice Department knew about these homicides and did nothing. Here’s one that resulted from a formally approved practice that Capt. Ian Fishback described as “smoking a PUC,” a person under control, or prisoner:

in December 2003, a 44-year-old Iraqi man named Abu Malik Kenami died in a U.S. detention facility in Mosul, Iraq. As reported by Human Rights First, U.S. military personnel who examined Kenami when he first arrived at the facility determined that he had no preexisting medical conditions. Once in custody, as a disciplinary measure for talking, Kenami was forced to perform extreme amounts of exercise—a technique used across Afghanistan and Iraq. Then his hands were bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs, he was hooded, and forced to lie in an overcrowded cell. Kenami was found dead the morning after his arrest, still bound and hooded. No autopsy was conducted; no official cause of death was determined. After the Abu Ghraib scandal, a review of Kenami’s death was launched, and Army reviewers criticized the initial criminal investigation for failing to conduct an autopsy; interview interrogators, medics, or detainees present at the scene of the death; and collect physical evidence. To date, however, the Army has taken no known action in the case.

more of Scott’s post.

By |2009-05-21T06:04:17-04:00May 21st, 2009|Bush Administration, Torture|Comments Off on The Face of Torture

McCain the Flip-flop King

Bush McCain Hug

The Cartpetbagger Report has compiled an impressive list of position reversals for John McCain: Sixty-one flip-flops and still counting!

From TCR:

National Security Policy

1. McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.

2. McCain insisted that everyone, even “terrible killers,” “the worst kind of scum of humanity,” and detainees at Guantanamo Bay, “deserve to have some adjudication of their cases,” even if that means “releasing some of them.” McCain now believes the opposite.

3. He opposed indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. When the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, he called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”

4. In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.

5. McCain was for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay before he was against it.

6. When Barack Obama talked about going after terrorists in Pakistani mountains with predators, McCain criticized him for it. He’s since come to the opposite conclusion.

Foreign Policy

7. McCain was for kicking Russia out of the G8 before he was against it.

8. McCain supported moving “towards normalization of relations” with Cuba. Now he believes the opposite.

9. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.

10. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Syria. Now he believes the opposite.

11. McCain is both for and against a “rogue state rollback” as a focus of his foreign policy vision.

12. McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

13. McCain was against divestment from South Africa before he was for it. (more…)

By |2008-07-08T17:39:09-04:00July 8th, 2008|Election 2008|1 Comment
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