Friday, May 29, 2009

Does the Star-Spangled Banner Wave Over the Land of the Torturers?

UPDATE IX: Is Cheney lying about the effectiveness of torture? Read the CNN, Memos don't show what Cheney says they do, so says Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

UPDATE VIII: A couple more articles about torture. Read The New York Times, When Israel Confronted and Rejected Torture and the Washington Post, Torture? No. Except . . .

Finally, who is to blame for the policy? We the citizen, who reelected Bush in 2004. Read the Washington Post, Where This Buck Stops.

UPDATE VII: A couple more must read articles about torture (should it be called the torture scandal?). Read The New York Times, Official Defends Signing Interrogation Memos, in which Judge Bybee's defends "the conclusions of legal memorandums he had signed as a Bush administration lawyer" and yet struggles to come to terms with his actions; and A Torturous Compromise, about the 100 or so detainees that have died in U.S. custody, and the decision to expose but not prosecute those responsible for torture.

At one point, as an attorney, I thought that the lawyers involved in providing 'legal justification' for torture should be disbarred. But now I think that if the lawyers would acknowledge violating their oath to uphold the rule of law, the ABA should simply reprimand them.

What do you think?

UPDATE VI: Did torture prevent terrorist attacks? Yes, in the Bush administration's alternate reality. From The New York Times Magazine, Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush:

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''"

Cheney has his own special reality for the torture program, code named 24. Now you can read the Congressional debriefing of Cheney to learn about all the terrorist attacks that Cheney and his torture program prevented in this newly declassified report in The New York Times, Vice's Secret Vice.

UPDATE V: A couple of must read articles about torture.

An article in The New York Times, The Banality of Bush White House Evil, gives a good historical synopsis of the torture debate.

Another in the Washington Post, If Everyone Knew, Who's to Blame? , discusses paradoxes of the torture scandal, including this:

"Republicans from Dick Cheney on down have been unflagging in their arguments that these "enhanced interrogation techniques . . . were absolutely crucial" to preventing "a major-casualty attack." This argument, still strongly supported by a great many Americans, is deeply pernicious, for it holds that it is impossible to protect the country without breaking the law. It says that the professed principles of the United States, if genuinely adhered to, doom the country to defeat. It reduces our ideals and laws to a national decoration, to be discarded at the first sign of danger." [Link to definition of pernicious added.]

UPDATE IV: Read the new Senate Armed Services Committee report, which includes testimony from an Army psychologist at Guantanamo Bay who described increasingly relentless pressure from Washington in the summer of 2002 to prove a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq:

"[T]his is my opinion, even though they were giving information and some of it was useful, while we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between AI Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link...there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."

Sort of ironic if you think about it. American the land of liberty and freedom, abandoned its core values to torture prisoners, adopting "methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans," to get information to justify an war which turned out to be a debacle.

Sounds like a Shakespearean plot.

BTW, these recent revelations placing the conduct at Abu Ghraib in a new context. Maybe the soldiers, who Rumsfeld called "a few bad apples," were following orders of higher-ranking military officers or the CIA. Of course who cares? As the war showed, Republi-cons don't mind sacricing a few soldiers for political purposes. The convicted soldiers were just collateral damage necessary for Bush's reelection.

But the soldiers are starting to realize that they were just scapegoats. Read CNN, Abu Ghraib head finds vindication in newly released memos.

UPDATE III: Read the Red Cross report on the CIA's handling of fourteen 'high-value' detainees, which describes the brutal tactics used on detainees, and concludes that the treatment amounted to torture.

UPDATE II: Bush sold America's soul, the Constitution, to the devil, and for what -- lies -- or more accurately false leads procured by torture. Read the Washington Post, Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots.

Time to disbar Bush's lawyers, if the Spanish don't prosecute them first. Read The New York Times, Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials.

UPDATE: Read Washington Post, Cleanup Task for a Shining City. For America is to remain that "shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere," there must be a public reckoning of the Bush administration's dark legacy.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The final two lines of the first verse are: "O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

Read this article and tell me if you think that is still true: The New York Review of Books, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites.

Makes ya wonder if OBL won.

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