Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Right to Torture

The Bush regime today made its assumption of a right to torture even more explicit. Earlier, disingenuous equivocating over the meaning of the word "torture" and implausible denials of its implementation had been at the center of White House strategy to institute a systematic policy of cruel and inhuman punishment for prisoners. It is merely abuse, not torture. Torture, what torture? Oh, it's just a few bad apples.

Today they go one step further.

In rejecting the McCain amendment to the budget bill, which would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of any detainee held by the United States government, the White House has demanded that the CIA be exempt. The proposed exemption stipulates that the measure,
"shall not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism operations conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the United States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense and are consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and treaties to which the United States is a party, if the president determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack."
McCain, and presumably the rest of the Senate, which voted for his amendment 90-9, has rejected the CIA presidential torture exemption but it probably will not matter because of greater support for torture in the House and a White House veto threat.

Given the general expert consensus that torture is ineffectual at extracting useful information, and that it could endanger American troops, what is really behind the Bush administration's relentless insistence on its right to torture?

I think they are doing it for their image.

The real goal is to build up a reputation of terror for our own government. Following the advice of Machiavelli, they want people both abroad and at home to be afraid of them, and few things create fear as effectively as torture.

Earlier: Torture and the American Way, Bush's former personal physician comes out against torture and the Ayn Rand Institute's passionate advocacy of torture.

UPDATE: And for ironic contrast, in a speech today preparing the nation for more death to come, George III warned, "The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of common humanity and by the rules of warfare..." Hmm. They sound pretty much like you, George.

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