Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bush veto limits on torture? Or did Bush say he supports use of torture?

Pres. Bush a couple days ago veto'd a bill which included a provision that would have required all U.S. agencies to abide by the Military Interrogation manual. This would have required all U.S. agencies to not torture. That would be a great thing, it would be a move towards restoring some of the respect the U.S. used to have. But instead he veto'd the bill ... some press reports I've heard describe it in very bland terms, as if the government really is being hindered with limited interrogation techniques. Okay, that's one way to look at this event, and the other way to look at it is that Bush has acted in support of interrogation techniques abhorred worldwide and which are highly illegal. But this is par for the course for this president who has committed one illegal act after another.

Text: Bush on Veto of Intelligence Bill is the text of his weekly news address, in which he explains the veto thusly:

...Unfortunately, Congress recently sent me an intelligence authorization bill that would diminish these vital tools. So today, I vetoed it....The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the C.I.A. program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives. This program has produced critical intelligence that has helped us prevent a number of attacks....The main reason this program has been effective is that it allows the C.I.A. to use specialized interrogation procedures to question a small number of the most dangerous terrorists under careful supervision. The bill Congress sent me would deprive the C.I.A. of the authority to use these safe and lawful techniques. Instead, it would restrict the C.I.A.’s range of acceptable interrogation methods to those provided in the Army field manual. The procedures in this manual were designed for use by soldiers questioning lawful combatants captured on the battlefield. They were not intended for intelligence professionals trained to question hardened terrorists....
In other words he's defending the use of torture (calling it lawful) because of the ticking time-bomb defense. The idea is you know there is a bomb somewhere, due to explode at a given time, you don't know where the bomb is, you don't know precisely when it will explode, but you have in your hands the person who planted the bomb. What do you do. If you're the star of the TV show 24 you don't let a little thing like laws stop you, you instead gird up your loins and commit torture in the name of God and Justice and Truth. But the real world experience with torture is the torturee often lies, or rather they get into a state of mind where they'll say anything just to get the pain to stop. You don't end up with truth, you end up with confusion.

The ACLU says:

"It is fundamentally un-American when our president vetoes laws against torture," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The president's veto sends a message to the world that despite Congress' actions, our country will continue to engage in this inhumane and heinous conduct when we should be affirming unequivocally and in one voice that torture and abuse will stop and never happen again. No one is above the rule of law, including the president. Congress should hold firm and persist in trying to get an anti-torture bill signed into law."

However the International Herald Tribune, in Bush vetoes bill to limit CIA interrogation methods, says:

President George W. Bush further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to halt a congressional effort to limit the CIA's latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques.

Oh, gee, he's fighting for the Presidency to have more power? How noble of him! Um, should that extend to the right for the President to authorize or commit illegal acts? Because that's exactly what's going on here, is the President is acting to support illegal acts (torture) which are abhorrent worldwide.

The director of the CIA, Mike Hayden, was swift to praise the Bush veto, arguing that the field manual was inappropriate as a guide for the CIA as the two institutions "have different missions, different capabilities and therefore difference procedures".

Uh, does a specific law become invalid in specific circumstances? In other words, if you're a trained race car driver is it then legal for you to drive 100 miles/hr in rush hour traffic? No, it's just as illegal to break the speed limit if you're a race car driver or if you're an 80 yr old half blind retiree. Therefore CIA Director Hayden is, uh, full of it.

The veto throws the spotlight back on to America's use of so-called coercive interrogation methods like waterboarding, the simulated drowning technique invented by Spanish inquisitors and adopted by regimes such as the Khmer Rouge.

Put's us in great company... eh? NOT. Look, if America is to live up to the ideal we believe in then we must outlaw torture and make it stick. We cannot let this "President" run roughshod on the law.

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