Monday, October 16, 2006
Welcome to the Era of Rationalized US Torture
Even a cursory glance through this bill shows all kinds of tweaks and disturbing details. Take this line from "Sec. 948d. Jurisdiction of military commissions":
(a) Jurisdiction- A military commission under this chapter shall have jurisdiction to try any offense made punishable by this chapter or the law of war when committed by an alien unlawful enemy combatant before, on, or after September 11, 2001.How nice to mention such an arbitrary date. Note it says "before, on, or after." Hmm. In other words, the date is only included as a goad, a "9/11 changed everything" reminder.
What I also find fascinating and quite disturbing is the Bush imperium's denial of internationally recognized definitions/standards concerning torture of prisoners. The standards for treatment of prisoners set up by the international community (including the USA, I might add), the third Geneva Convention, gives pretty explicit guidelines. The Bush administration thinks it's being clever by exploiting phrasing in this Convention, thus redefining who is a "prisoner of war." Too clever by half, in my opinion.
Perhaps I'm willfully thickheaded, blind, and naïve but I cannot fathom this bill, cannot envision any credible national or international advantage from its enactment.
Torture is illegal under international law and therefore illegal for the US, period. The US government is bound by its own constitution to respect and abide by international law. This makes the US a "rogue nation" by any reasonable standard.
The so-called "ticking bomb scenario" justification for torture is so ethically abhorrent, so morally repugnant, I can't believe it can even be put forward in public without being greeted by great roars of ridiculing laughter or massive public weeping.
Some describe these techniques as merely "stress positions" or precise applications of "psychological pressure" or processes for creating "disorientation" and "discomfort" in prisoners. This is one of the most facile and disingenuous loads of bullcrap I've ever heard. It's an attempt to tart up torture in soft terms to ease consciences and deceive the public. It's disgusting.
There are many things the Bush administration has done that I've protested. There are many things Congress has done that I strongly disagree with. But the moral outrage and shame I feel upon the passage and signing of this bill is so beyond those feelings. It is the shattering realization that evil intentions can dress in a suit and tie and can name a mechanism of ethical degeneracy "H.R.6166: Military Commissions Act of 2006."
Today I am ashamed to be a US citizen, to be even distantly associated with a government that attempts to legitimize brutal behaviour behind a facade of acting in the name of "national security."
Don't worry, it's just another landmark on our descent, our imperial enterprise to efficiently spread our peculiar form of "democracy."
Don't worry your pretty little head about it. Once your heart is removed, you won't feel a thing for those dirty foreigners. Besides, those people don't feel physical or psychological pain as acutely as US citizens do. Or so I've heard.