Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Torture--It's Not Just for Commies Anymore
Bush's first veto?

Of all the stupid, corrupt, and/or short-sighted actions of the Bush Administration, few affect me as deeply as the role of torture by US troops in the "War on Terrorism." First, let make it clear that I do believe that our troops do deserve our support—after all they are the only ones called to sacrifice by their commander-in-chief. However, support does not mean a free pass to act without evoking criticism. Second, I believe the most guilty are those at the top, who send mixed messages to those on the ground.

With Bush's threat to veto Congressional action to explicitly outlaw torture, he is clearly the most guilty of those at the top. How would this veto be wrong? Let me count the ways: It is deeply immoral in a way oral sex can never be. It is devastating to our international reputation at a time when winning hearts and minds against terrorism is crucial to any success in fighting it. It jeopardizes our troops by undermining the Geneva Conventions. And, in the words of King. "A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The right often evokes the "slippery slope" argument—well, claiming morality for any kind of torture is one scary slope.

For all these reasons, I'm somewhat relieved to know that the Texas media are taking a stand on the issue. See http://www.andrewsullivan.com/

TEXAS VERSUS BUSH: Every single major Texas paper has come out in favor of the McCain amendment barring torture and abuse of detainees and clarifying rules for their treatment.

From the Houston Chronicle:
[N]o president should have the authority or flexibility to order the torture or abuse of prisoners. It doesn't produce usable intelligence, it endangers the safety of captured U.S. troops and it's wrong on its face. The similarity of the alleged mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay to the documented prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan suggests a pattern of official encouragement or indifference.

The San Antonio
The White House has threatened a presidential veto. During nearly five years in the Oval Office, Bush has yet to veto a bill. This is not the place to start.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
What the president and others who might oppose this legislation must understand is that this country can never own the moral high ground -- in war or peace -- if it is willing to do what it condemns others for doing.

And the
Austin American-Statesman. This is, of course, a no-brainer - as long as you assume that this president isn't committed to torture and abuse as a policy. But he is and long has been. Moreover, reversing what has been going on completely strips him of his defense that none of it happened, or that only a few incidents occurred, or that no one higher up knew, or whatever his latest spin is. He may have to veto to maintain the fallacious facade of the last three years. With any luck, the House will vote by a non-vetoable margin, just as the Senate has. But if Bush is forced to veto, so be it. Let him be forced to embrace publicly what he has enforced privately: the corruption of the moral integrity of the armed services of the United States. And let him finally be held to account.


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