Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Problem with Torture

Is the problem with torture that we do it? Or is it that people are reporting on it?

As you know Amnesty has produced a report that strongly indicts the United States for our torture policies (along with holding people without representation or without being able to contact their families). This report has proven less than popular with the Bush Administrations, which I suppose none of us should find all that surprising.

Sidney Blumenthal, in his latest article for Salon, covers the Bush reaction.
By the moment of Bush's press conference, every nuance of his response on the issue had been carefully configured and rehearsed by Cheney, Rice, Myers et al. "I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd," the president began. Then he repeated himself: "It's an absurd allegation." The country, he declared, is virtuous, and therefore, he suggested, his motives must be innocent. "The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world." Under him, the rule of law prevails: "When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way."

Bush repeated himself again: "It's just an absurd allegation." Once again, he claimed nothing had gone amiss. "In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees." Every complaint, he assured his audience, was false because the motives of the detainees are as evil as his are pure: "It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations by -- people who were held in detention, people who hate America." Here, Bush turned lexicographer: "people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth." In conclusion he banged again on his drum: "And so it was an absurd report. It just is."

It may be of minor ironic interest that before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration cited Amnesty International's reports on Saddam Hussein's violations of human rights as unimpeachable texts. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld often claimed Amnesty as his ultimate authority. Now, inexplicably, Amnesty has gone over to the side of the devil. (On Wednesday, Rumsfeld assailed Amnesty as "reprehensible" and losing "any claim to objectivity or seriousness." But he admitted that some detainees have been mistreated, "sometimes grievously." Thus, according to the secretary of defense, they were not all "disassembling.")
America is clearly the good guy in this conflict.

Good guys don't torture.

America, therefore, doesn't torture.

Amnesty international must be full of crap if they accuse America of torture.

I think that covers it.

Meanwhile over at This Modern World, Tom Tomorrow continues to belittle the blogs (as is his wont). And Greg Saunders has a clue as to what the Bush Administration hopes to accomplish with their assault on Amnesty International.
. . . it's clear what's going on here. The Bushies are focusing in on a single word and are going to hit back at Amnesty International until they say something even vaguely conciliatory. At that point, they'll declare victory.
That kind of fits the pattern, when you think about it.

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