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Bush: U.S. Doesnt Torture

11.07.2005

Good news for activists and campaigners out there, in a speech earlier on today George Bush declared that the U.S. does not use torture in the War on Terror. While unrelated, the declaration comes on the heels of attacks over the weekend from Mary Robinson on U.S. tv talk show Real Time with Bill Maher.

The assertion comes in a speech delivered after congress passed a law banning the use of torture, a Bill opposed by the White House. Currently Dick Cheny is seeking an exemption for CIA agents from torture, a rather disconcerting note from AmericaBlog;



"Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England."


In a week where they were accused of having secret jails across Eastern Europe and Africa specifically for torturing terror suspects, allegedly.

It seems that there is much discomfort among House Republicans over the willingness of the administration, real or imagined, to conduct extra-judicial proceedings against suspects including the use of torture. The willingness of the House to go against its own presidents often boils down to a single issue in U.S. politics and it is rarely principle. As I pointed to last night, numbers suggest a massive swing to the democrats in one or both Houses at the mid terms next year. Thus there is a desire to keep bums in seats over and above following the dear leader. This could become very tricky for a man that is relying on the Houses to see him back on safe ground, (Alito and CIA exemptions e.g.).

McCain plans to tag on the anti-torture wording to every single bill considered by the Senate until it becomes law. Eye-catching and bad news for Bush.

Bush's claims today were not helped by this development. Bearing in mind innocence until proven guilty, I shall say no more. The matter may be something other than alleged. We dont know, however the commitment to a fair trial for the soldiers is undoubted. A fair trial for those held over years in Gitmo? Perhaps non.

The worries of the Human Rights community is far more than bleeding heart liberalism. Its a case built up on what evidence available that the War on Terror is being conducted in places in a manner that doesnt align with our beliefs. The cross-party consensus on a torture ban should not even have to be explicitly supported in this day and age. It is an argument that should be put to, and kept in, bed.
To lift from Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch;


"Who would have thought we would still be debating the use of torture?” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch and co-editor of the book. “But when a government as dominant and influential as the United States openly defies the absolute ban on mistreating detainees, its conduct jeopardizes prisoners everywhere."

The HRW response to the statement and a blatant plug for a new publication on Torture are here.
In a final nutshell, that fact Bush must come out and say that the U.S. doesnt use torture is a sign in itself of how far things have fallen. Human Rights are never concrete, never fully secure. In taking an eye from the ball, some in power around the world have allowed for a moderate, unhealthy, rollback of human striving. Guilty or not, the speech is an admission that too much hangs over the administration-truth or lie.

RR


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