Monday, November 21, 2005

Brilliant! (the explanation for the possible first veto)

In case you have been ignoring the news of late, the administration is threatening to veto the defense appropriations bill if it includes provisions outlawing "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of detainees. This would be the very first veto given by president Bush in his entire tenure as president. The reason for the threatened veto?
The White House has said that Bush would likely veto the bill if McCain's language is included, calling the amendment "unnecessary and duplicative."
One must read any statement given by this administration in Orwellian. What unnecessary and duplicative in Orwellian means is necessary and original. It is true that there are laws on the books that dictate the humane treatment of detainees, most of which stem from treaty obligations. Yet this law covers all detainees, and the administration has seen fit to classify the detainees in question as unlawful combatants, meaning previous treaties do not apply to them in the view of the administration. Therefore these provisions, covering all detainees under American control, is a codification of law that is necessary, and not covered under administration policies.

Yet the threat to veto a bill with which the administration purports to agree with because it is a duplication of previous law is just not understandable. If the administration agrees (as they claim they do but we know they really don't) with the intent of the law, what is the problem here? It is clear the recent events have made the torture of detainees an issue, and one that needs to be clarified. Declaring that we do not torture is not clarification. The administration attempted to lay down a legal basis for torturing unlawful combatants, and now protesting their innocence hardly assuages the concern of the world in this regard. They simply may not be trusted, and congressional oversight on this issue, though long overdue, should be forced upon them.

Finally, defining torture in a very narrow way to only include the infliction of pain on a scale one would experience with major organ failure does not mean that torture as commonly understood is not torture. Making a detainee stand with his hands shackled behind him and fastened by chains so that the hands are raised to an unnatural level may be termed a stress position, and therefore not torture by this administration. Or waterboarding, as described in the post below this, insofar as it only instills terror and not actual physical pain may not be construed as torture by this crowd. But this is them simply parsing the word torture. And by all widely accepted standards of that term, we have and do torture these detainees. So when you hear them proclaim we don't torture, you know they mean we aren't pulling out fingernails under official sanction. But the image of a detainee, chained naked to the floor of a cold cell and doused with cold water on a regular basis, being found in the morning with his hair pulled out, is the image of a tortured person. We may not torture as the administration defines it, but we do torture as defined by the rest of humanity. Let us legislatively outlaw the practice forthwith, and start the long road back to America being able to expound to the world about human rights.

Comments:
"Those boys need a 'whoopin'"
 
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