"And I wouldn't join it. And I understand that in certain capitals around the world that that wasn't a popular move. But it's the right move not to join a foreign court that could -- where our people could be prosecuted." - George W. Bush 09/30/04
Men without conscience are capable of any cruelty the human mind can imagine. - Dick Cheney 01/26/05
The Christian Science Monitor carries a daily feature that is sort of a blog. At any rate, it has a lot of links. A recent one focused on prisoners in the "war on terror," and has a number of links on the topic: Report: US wants to hold Gitmo prisoners indefinitely by Tom Regan 01/03/05. (The date on the page actually says 2004, but it's from this year.)
What is this all about? The FBI, the armed forces' own legal officers, bar associations and other civil law groups have protested, as have retired intelligence officers and civilian law enforcement officials.
The United States has never before officially practiced torture. It was not deemed necessary in order to defeat Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. Its indirect costs are enormous: in their effect on the national reputation, their alienation of international opinion, and their corruption of the morale and morality of the American military and intelligence services.
Torture doesn't even work that well. An indignant FBI witness of what has gone on at the Guantánamo prison camp says that "simple investigative techniques" could produce much information the army is trying to obtain through torture.
US disclosures signal wider detainee abuse by Charlie Savage Boston Globe 12/26/04.
The documents suggest that severe mistreatment was far more widespread than previously known and that there may have been higher-level authorization by Bush administration officials for a policy of aggressive interrogation tactics. The White House last week again denied that anyone authorized torture and pledged to investigate the new allegations.
Because the e-mails and memos recounting scenes of abuse were written by government officials -- largely FBI agents appalled by interrogation practices they found unprofessional and counterproductive -- the disclosures lend greater credibility to prior claims of abuse by former detainees, according to an advocate for the detainees.
''This is really disturbing and frightening," Khalid al-Odah, father of a Guantanamo detainee, said in a phone interview from Kuwait City. He says his son went to Pakistan to teach the Koran just before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was later sold into detention under false pretenses by villagers seeking a bounty for Al Qaeda members.
''Before the FBI reports, we did not take these stories from the [human rights] organizations and released detainees as full fact," Odah said. ''We thought maybe there was some exaggerating, or they are not sure about what is happening exactly. Now we don't have any doubt."
Someone who should know better makes the sophomore-philosophy-class argument about torture: Gonzales: No Go! by Ed Kilgore 01/27/05.
As it happens, I'm not an absolutist on this subject. I can't honestly say I'd behave well if I had custody of an al Qaeda operative who was reported to know the time and place of a dirty bomb set to go off in Washington or New York, killing tens of thousands of people and spreading radioactivity to tens of thousands of others.
Yeah, tell that to the young boys in Abu Ghuraib who were anally raped. Or to the guy who was stripped naked and had a dog let loose on him to rip out chunks of his flesh. Or to the parents there who had their children tortured in front of them.
Kilgore is saying this in the context of opposing the nomination of Alberto "the torture guy" Gonzalez. But it's ridiculous. This is not the context in which torture takes place. Anyone with even the most superficial knowledge of the subject realizes that it's almost always done by governments, and it's mainly done for the purpose of terrorizing the population. Of course, the sick individual proclivities of the individuals doing the torture always enters into it at some level.
Making a point about this hypothical comic-book argument doesn't show that you're "pragmatic" or any such nonsense. At best it's foolish. In most cases it's just making excuse for criminal, sadistic acts.