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And, yes, I DO take it personally: We WILL be inured to torture as U.S. policy IF we don't stand up and fight
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We WILL be inured to torture as U.S. policy IF we don't stand up and fight

two-time pulitzer winner, anthony lewis, a true "dean" of journalism in a way his fellow jewish journalist, robert novak, will never be, offers his views on the horror of torture as official u.s. policy...
In these last weeks of turbulent events, the single most significant has not been the financial crisis, not the fall of a governor, not the passing of the fifth year of the war without end in Iraq. It has been an American president's formal blessing of the use of torture.

That was what President Bush did in early March when he vetoed legislation prohibiting the use of brutal methods of interrogation by American intelligence agents. His action was quickly overtaken by other news. But in its redefinition of American values — of the American character — it had profound implications.


The corrupting effects of the adoption of torture as an American practice have been widespread. First of all, on the law. The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which makes binding interpretations of the law for the federal government, issued secret opinions defining torture away to the vanishing point, saying it must be equivalent in pain to "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death" — and adding that Congress could not stop the president from ordering the use of torture. (The whole idea of secret official opinions defining the law should be anathema in a free republic, one that has boasted from the beginning of having a government of laws, not men. Secret laws are the hallmark of tyrannies.)

The Justice Department opinions were not abstractions. They were immediately taken up by political appointees at the Pentagon and led directly to the torture of dozens of prisoners and the killing of some at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Torture has had corrupting effects on our politics, too. Most Republicans in Congress have defended President Bush's claim of the right to use such methods, evidently as a matter of political solidarity. The corruption has even touched the man who more than anyone has been a symbol of resistance to torture, John McCain. Senator McCain led Congress in 2005 to pass the legislation reiterating the ban on the military's use of torture. But when it came to extending the ban to intelligence agents in this year's Intelligence Authorization Act, he sided with the president. It was as if he were saying that the North Vietnamese who so cruelly tortured him as a prisoner were war criminals if they were soldiers — but not if they were intelligence agents.


[T]he rest of us do not have to resign ourselves to being a Torture Nation. ... Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, U.S. Army (Ret.), who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, wrote: "We must start now to recognize our crimes and our complicity. We are all guilty, and we must all take action in whatever way we can. Torture and abuse are not American. They are foreign to us and always should be. We need to exorcise them from our souls and make amends."

there is only one surefire way to restore our country's integrity, and that's to insure that the criminals responsible are prosecuted for war crimes in the hague, in full view of the watching world...

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