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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Bush stance on torture anything but ‘civil’

The Bush administration is finally feeling the weight of mounting international and domestic pressure to renounce torture once and for all.

As a result, the Pentagon has released a new army field manual which expressly forbids inhumane interrogation methods.

At the same time, Bush announced the transfer of 14 so-called “high value detainees” from secret CIA sites around the world to Guantanamo Bay to await trial.

To be sure, the CIA “black sites” they left make Gitmo look like Disney Land.

The prisons are part of a fun little program called extraordinary rendition, whereby terrorist suspects receive an all-expenses-paid trip to such fabulous locales as Libya and Slovakia where they are treated to four-star accommodations including electro-massage therapy and daily swims.

Or was that a car battery hooked up to their genitals and simulated drowning?

At any rate, in the United States, CIA activities have to withstand pesky Congressional oversights. Rendition solves this problem by outsourcing our torture needs to countries that aren’t so squeamish about beating prisoners to within an inch of their lives.

However, despite the appearance of a softening of the Bush administration’s position on the issue, it is clear this is not a reversal of policy.

Make no mistake; contrary to the statements of the president asserting that “we do not torture,” the CIA black sites are still in operation – a fact long denied by the administration until now.

In fact, after being slapped by the Supreme Court for the unconstitutionality and flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention involved in his proposal to try Gitmo detainees in military tribunals, Bush has decided to take another crack at it.

This time, he has admitted the existence of the CIA black sites and is asking Congress to enact legislation that legalizes their actions as well as trials for terror suspects in which they cannot view the evidence brought against them.

Could this perhaps be because the evidence was acquired while the suspect was being tortured and the prosecution would rather not mention that embarrassing little nugget?

The new proposal hinges on a “reinterpretation” of the Geneva Convention, whereby methods of interrogation previously considered torture are now lawful. But – surprise! – He has come up against some stiff opposition from members of his own party like Senator John McCain who was actually on the receiving end of torture in Vietnam.

It’s high time our government ended its sadistic little love affair with torture, particularly that of Dick Cheney who, according to a former top State Department official, provided the “philosophical guidance” that led to its employment in U.S. facilities.

Even the vast majority of interrogation experts concede the unreliability of confessions acquired through such means.

For example, take the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen detained for his alleged participation in a “dirty bomb” plot. In November, Padilla was finally indicted on charges unrelated to any dirty bomb. Why? Because Padilla was arrested on the basis of information extracted from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whose interrogation included water boarding and other torture techniques.

Moreover, the tempting allure of show trials for Gitmo detainees must be rebuked.

While it might sooth the emotions of Americans to see hundreds of terrorists expediently condemned to death or life imprisonment, trying detainees on the basis of secret evidence and hearsay, as the administration intends, would be a colossal mistake.

Following World War II, many wanted show trials for former Nazis, but instead the U.S. pushed for fair hearings and justice was served.

If, as George Bush claims, we are engaged in “a struggle for civilization” and our opponents are “evil,” let’s start acting like the civilized good guys.

The struggle against international terrorism cannot be won by torturing and killing, but only through the superiority of our ideas. Jihad is an empty vessel, offering its adherents nothing more than martyrdom, whereas tolerance, rule of law and moderation offer infinite possibilities.

When we abandon these principles, we also concede the moral high ground in what Bush calls “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” not to mention providing endless footage for al-Qaida recruitment videos.

The sooner we take care of the administration’s redefinition of torture, the sooner we can get to work on my definition of torture: two more years of George Bush and his policies.

Send comments to Jon Bosscher at [email protected].

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