Friday, September 15, 2006

The President's "Program" (the American Way of Torture)

I listened to the President’s press conference this morning as I drove to work and kept hearing about the word “program” and the need for “greater specificity” in Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. At one point, the President got into a strangely jovial exchange with a reporter who had labeled the administration’s proposed legislation “the eavesdropping program and the detainee issues” to which the president responded “We call it the terrorist surveillance program”. He almost seemed to be openly acknowledging his administration’s knack for euphemism and weirder yet he was laughing about it.

After several mentions of the need for greater specificity to protect our hardworking intelligence operatives, I started to notice that as much as he said that Article 3 was too vague for our interrogators to know when they were breaking the law, our President somehow never managed to quote from Article 3 of the Geneva convention.

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
Wow, that is really vague. I can see how those MPs and private contractors at Abu Ghraib would now post Hamdan have to ask “Gee, is stacking a bunch of men naked into a human pyramid and violating their intimate body parts either “humiliating or degrading” treatment?

How about Guantamo where they were threatening to step on copies of the Qu’ran in front of the detainees? I’m sure the guards we’re wondering “Wow, that darned article 3 is sure vague. I can’t figure out whether or not this would be adverse distinction based on race or religion.”
Of course, the President’s “program” include items like waterboarding, heat and cold exposure, threatening families, etc. He’s really telling us that American Intelligence need to be able to “torture” their prisoners. Only, it wouldn’t be illegal torture. The only thing that’s vague about the very plain language of the Geneva convention is how the White House might be able to “twist” acts of torture into “tools”, “techniques”, and “program”.
While the President evidently found all of this funny, I was very sad. I was listening to the leader of the “free” world try to convince America that torture, ignoring the rights of detainees, and eavesdropping not on all terrorists but all Americans were somehow the only way to protect “liberty and democracy”.
At one point, a reporter asked “What if other countries decide that they too can reinterpret the Geneva convention as they see fit?”
The President answered, “Well I hope they adopt the same standards we adopt.”
Those standards appear to be well unless you literally do use a rack and thumbscrews, it’s technically not torture. Clearly, shouldn't American Intelligence have the same protections Adolph Eichmann wanted?

I guess this means the President is fine with American combatants being humiliated, degraded, and tortured. This may explain why no member of the Bush family is currently serving in Iraq. He might have added “Boy that Colin Powell sure seemed confused about this stuff.”
In the meantime, the President eloquently spoke about the passing of Ann Richards whom he defeated for governor thanks to Karl Rove’s whisper campaign about lesbians working for the populist governor and what that insinuated about her, “Well….a lot of people loved Ann Richards.”

He did graciously say that he’ll send a representative to the funeral, but explained that he hadn’t decided how far down the totem pole he’d look.
It occurs to me that if the President wants his program and believes in it so strongly, there’s only one way for him to convince me that he’s serious about it. I’d like him to personally use the “tools” he’s specifically trying to authorize through congress with a detainee. I’d like the moment turned into a photo op and I’d like it to run in every newspaper, on every tv news show, and on every blog with the caption, “The self-proclaimed defender of “civilization” demonstrates his respect for freedom and human rights.”
As he says, once other people in the world see democracy in action, it’s irresistible.

I also remember it says in some book somewhere, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."


At 9/17/2006 12:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To hear Mr.Bush not clarionily declaring that hating torture is an essence of liberty makes me sick to my stomach.

And the idea that we could try and convict people on so-called evidence they could never see? What else do tyrannies do but these very things?

The horror, the horror.

At 9/17/2006 12:48:00 AM, Blogger inkyhack said...

And to think, the Republicans made fun of Clinton for asking for a definition of "is."

At 9/17/2006 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. Pogblog and Mr. Ink,
It's clear to me that you're not with the program. This must mean that you're on the side that doesn't defend civilization, liberty, and democracy.

At 9/17/2006 03:30:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

Hi Chancelucky,

You have an interesting post, a bit startling, but nonetheless interesting.

Since I don't drop by as often as I should, I wanted to tell you that I thought of you this afternoon. My spouse and I went to see the movie "Hollywoodland." I liked it a lot, but rather than going into why I liked it, I'm linking Rex Reed's review which gives more detail and perspective.

I hope you will start another "movie" thread soon. You write very good reviews of DVD's.

Best, Benny

At 9/17/2006 05:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always find it ironic that we are supposedly fighting for Iraqi freedom while we restrict the freedom of Americans, (let alone how we bend the rules on treating suspected terrorists). One could also look at the fact that because we are restricting our own freedoms so severely, that the terrorists have won.

At 9/17/2006 10:39:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Always good to have you here. I just assumed you'd been busy getting John Edwards the nomination. I doubt that there's anything startling about actually quoting the Geneva convention. I just tend to get suspicious when someone keeps referring to a document in a speech without somehow ever quoting the text or offering any specifics.

I tried to talk my wife into seeing Hollywoodland just the other day by telling her that Ben Affleck was in it and that it had a really good cast. It didn't work.

I think my last movie review was a Jennifer Aniston movie, Friends with Money. I'm still honestly not sure why I review the movies I do. It has little to nothing to do with whether I thought they were good.

I agree. It's a bit like Heart of Darkness, I can even see Dick Cheney as Kurtz.

At 9/18/2006 04:52:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

Yeppers, I confess I favor John Edwards as a candidate for the USPOTUS.

On my blog, I posted some more personal comments about a great lady who passed late last week. It's getting wearisome to lose so many influencial women of leadership, but nonetheless, they deserve our thanks and acknowledgement for the roads we had to walk together as women, minorities (of race, color and sexual orientation) and as Texans, in my case.


At 9/25/2006 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I found the President's comments about Ann Richards more than a little weird. First, it was clear that he felt nothing and the odd bit about "lots of people loved her" seemed to underscore the fact that he didn't care for her.


Post a Comment

<< Home