Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tort Reform? I Thought You Said Torture Reform

It's not really a surprise, given what Seymour Hersh and others have been trying to tell us as we scapegoated our way around truly understanding the systematic ugliness of the Gitmo and Abu Ghraib prison scandals, but today the ACLU, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request (somehow Bush & Co. are still letting a few of those get approved), has revealed:

The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.

So, Bush himself decided that torture is an American value. Of course the moral equivocators of the right like Michelle Malkin and others will claim torture is necessary as that's the only way to fight evil. After all, the terrorists killed lots of innocents on 9/11. The only way to buy such an argument, however, is to agree with both of the following problematic, if not outright stupid assumptions:

1) Every person arrested is guilty and therefore worthy of torture.
2) If a person is tortured, he or she inevitably tells the truth.

But the problems with the "Bush signs off on torture" story are richer and deeper, and tell us more than that Michelle Malkin is an idiot. After all, we knew that already. First, what the hell was the Kerry campaign doing? There was no way to turn Abu Ghraib and Gitmo into an issue without looking soft? Really!? So a candidate is either pro-torture or a push-over for terrorists?

Second, what makes America great? That in its best moments, which, alas, are too often theoretical, it offers more freedom than any other nation on Earth. There's nothing more hopeful than that--that this country was based on the belief that letting people speak out, assemble, print opinions, vote would lead to goodness, of all things. Instead it has led to arrests for no cause other than looking Arabic, indefinite jail terms without sentencing or counsel, and the unspeakable things we have all seen in photos (and Hersh and others insist we've only viewed a miniscule amount of those). Osama Bin Laden isn't hiding, folks, he's clear to see in the heart at the black heart of the White House.


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