Bush Supporters Should Explain their Stance on Torture

 

I was a teenager when I first learned about Amnesty International.  They are one of the groups that documents and criticizes human rights abuses around the world, particularly the abuse of political prisoners. 

 

At that time, in the 1980s, Amnesty International would normally offer reports of the kind of things that went on in countries like the Soviet Union, communist China, or Guatemala.  Their list of abusers was mainly made up of countries that Western humanists would call pariah states: countries whose governments had no respect for individual rights.

 

Now Amnesty International is documenting a new abuser: my own country, the United States.  As an American, I find this situation unacceptable.

 

The United States has become one of the world's nations that approves of and uses torture.  This is not a matter of a few bad apples in one Iraqi prison.  Rather it is a matter of an international system, planned and set up as part of the war on terrorism.  The torture of detainees is now part of United States policy in Afghanistan, the Guanatamo base in Cuba, and in Iraq.  The planned and systematic nature of what is going on is obvious to anyone who looks into the information coming out. 

 

I think it's time that Americans who support Bush also come forward and acknowledge openly that they support this system of torturing detainees.  I think pro-Bush Americans ought to quit their hypocritical talk about "America will get over Abu Ghraib" and "those responsible will be brought to justice."  What happened in Abu Ghraib was not an isolated abuse: it is still happening, it is still business as usual in a number of detention centers.

 

Those who intend to vote for Bush ought to accept moral responsibility for this system.  We live in a democracy: American citizens are in some measure responsible for the policies of the leaders they support.

 

I myself do not support either Bush or this system.  I am indignant that my country has been led into the kind of actions that previously characterized the likes of Stalin, Mao, and Saddam.  I find it amazing how low America has sunk if this is now considered acceptable U.S. policy.  Perhaps November will tell if Americans have really turned their backs on the principles that make them Americans to begin with.

 

And I do not think there is any value in an answer that says: "But look what those barbarians do to us!  They drag our bodies behind cars, they behead innocent civilians."  This is not a valid response.  As even your second grade teacher will tell you: "Two wrongs don't make a right."

 

But the use of torture is not wrong for ethical reasons alone.  I believe it is tactically wrong too.  Muslim terrorist networks thrive on hatred of the U.S.  Torturing Muslim detainees (the great majority of whom, according to the Red Cross, are innocent) greatly increases the hatred for the U.S.: it shows the whole region that we will not treat their people with the same respect we would accord Westerners.  This policy is thus short-sighted.  It is good news for Al Qaeda recruiters, and it probably does more to strengthen the terrorist networks than it does to weaken them.

 

There are only two possible responses to the fact of America's current use of torture: either you acknowledge and support it or you find it is wrong, unacceptable.  To continue to imply that it is only an isolated incident, a few bad apples that got out of hand, is hypocritical.

 

If you support this system of torture, you will not hold it against the Bush Administration that they have allowed this system to come about.  If, on the other hand, you think the United States must not join the ranks of nations that are known for such things, then you ought to consider seriously whether or not Bush and his team should get your vote in November.

 

I will close by saying once more: Those who intend to support Bush in the coming election should explain their stance on torture.

 

Those who still deny that torture is a systematically implemented policy of this Administration should read the following and decide for themselves. 

 

Eric Mader

 

 

****

 

Same shame, different site: the Afghan gulag

 

By Duncan Campbell and Suzanne Goldenberg

THE GUARDIAN , Afghanistan

Monday, Jun 28, 2004, Page 9

 

Former police officer Syed Nabi Siddiqi, 47, is lying with his face pressed to the floor, his arms stretched painfully behind his back. He is demonstrating one of the milder interrogation techniques that he says he endured after he was arrested by foreign troops in Afghanistan last year as part of the US' Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

During the course of the next hour he will recount how American soldiers stripped him naked and photographed him, set dogs on him, asked him which animal he would prefer to have sex with, and told him his wife was a prostitute. He will tell also of hoods being placed over his head, of being forced to roll over every 15 minutes while he tried to sleep, and of being kept on his knees with his hands tied behind his back in a narrow tunnel-like space, unable to move.

 

Interviews with former Bagram prisoners, senior US military sources and human rights monitors in Afghanistan have uncovered widespread evidence of detainees facing beatings and sexual humiliations and being kept for long periods in painful positions. Detainees, none of whom were ever charged with any offence, told of American soldiers throwing stones at them as they defecated and of being stripped naked in front of large groups of interrogators. One detainee said that in order to be released after nearly two years' imprisonment, he had to sign a document stating that he had been captured in battle when in fact he had been arrested while driving his taxi with four passengers in it.

 

At least five men have died while under US detention in Afghanistan, and three of these cases were classified as homicides. Two deaths at Bagram airbase have been classified as homicides, and autopsies have indicated "blunt-force injuries." An investigation into allegations of abuse and into the deaths in custody has just been completed by Brigadier General Chuck Jacoby, the second-highest-ranking US officer in Afghanistan, and parts of it are due to be made public next month.

 

While the treatment of prisoners at the US facilities in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has been noted by the international media as well as by US investigators and, belatedly, by their superiors, Bagram and the network of 19 US detention centers and "fire bases" around Afghanistan have largely avoided official review or scrutiny. Until recently, human rights groups investigating allegations of abuses in Afghanistan were not even sure how many of the secretive US facilities existed. While Bagram is visited regularly by the International Committee of the Red Cross, witness testimonies suggest that much of the abuse took place at satellite bases.

 

Siddiqi's story and others like it involve incidents from the end of the 2001 war to the present day. The number and duration of these cases indicate that what has been happening in Abu Ghraib was not an isolated occasion of rogue junior soldiers acting independently, but was part of an apparent interrogation strategy that was in place long before the invasion of Iraq.

 

"In some ways, the abuses in Afghanistan are more troubling than those reported in Iraq," said John Sifton, the area's Human Rights Watch representative. "While it is true that abuses in Afghanistan often lacked the sexually abusive content of the abuses in Iraq, they were in many ways worse. Detainees were severely beaten, exposed to cold and deprived of sleep and water.

 

"Moreover, it should be noted that the detention system in Afghanistan, unlike the system in Iraq, is not operated even nominally in compliance with the Geneva conventions. The detainees are never given an opportunity to see any independent tribunal. There is no legal process whatsoever and not even an attempt at one. The entire system operates outside the rule of law. At least in Iraq, the US is trying to run a system that meets Geneva standards. In Afghanistan, they are not."

 

The rest of the article is at:

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/edit/archives/2004/06/28/2003176877

 

See also an excellent article from The New York Review of Books:

 

http://www.necessaryprose.com/torture.htm

 

The article that broke the story of the SAP:

 

http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?fact/040524fa_fact

 

*     *     *

 

The following reply came via one of my connections on the Republican email:

 

From: foxnewsintellectual@cs.com

To: inthemargins03@hotmail.com

Subject: Re: Bush Supporters Should Explain Stance on Torture

Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 14:13:12 EDT

 

Ooooh, too bad. Those poor Iraqi terrorists! How did they ever endure the 'torture' they've been subjected to by the evil Americans?? I mean...stripping them naked, siccing dogs on them (I never did hear of whether any dog DID ever bite one), and...my God... even calling them 'bad names'.

 

Gee, how about the indignation and the mental anguish suffered by those who have had their heads lopped off or brains blown out by the enemy on prime time TV??  Who weeps for them??

 

I guess the end DOES justify the means if it protects just ONE other American from the car bombs (that also have killed hundreds of other innocent Iraqi men, women and yes, even children), the roadside bombs triggered by those poor 'freedom fighters' as they try to liberate their country from the 'oppressive' occupation by the evil Americans.  Where were your cries of indignation against the brutal Regime of Sadam Hussein as they murdered 1000s of their own people at Abu Greibe as well as the hundreds of other Death Camps conveniently located around the country??

 

Yes we "Bushies" DO abhor the tragedies exhibited by a few misguided idiots who were probably raised in homes by liberal parents believing in the "anything goes" if you can get away with it, or the, 'if it's fun...do it' mentality that prevades society today.

 

But I believe, and apparently so do 95% of all Iraqis, that the world is a better place without Sadam and his henchmen. I know, you liberals probably feel differently about this. I suppose you all would feel vindicated if the French, Germans and Russians led the fight to reinstate him so they could all continue to milk the country of their precious resources and get their share of the under- the -table plunder they were receiving.

 

But, for our OWN security and the safety of our Homeland, I don't feel any remorse for the treatment that these terrorists receive and deserve if it means obtaining the information that will protect us from the strident attempts to obliterate us from the earth. So, "get a life" liberals. Oh, excuse me, but I've got to run. Moore's "Fahrenheit" is opening today in Milwaukee and I've just got to see it. Now don't you all be telling me the ending, I DO want to experience it for myself.

 

And remember, a vote for George W. Bush will insure that the fight to save our collective behinds will continue.  But ah yes, there ARE times that I wish Kerry might win. Personally, I don't know about you, but I don't think I'm paying enough in taxes to support the Congress and the Senate and I really WOULD like to pay more.

 

Peace brothers!!

 

 

I probably wasted my time answering as follows.

 

From: foxnewsintellectual@cs.com

To: inthemargins03@hotmail.com

Subject: Re: Bush Supporters Should Explain Stance on Torture

Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 14:13:12 EDT

 

Thanks for the insults and shallow rhetoric.  Maybe next time you'll present some arguments too.  I'll give you some insults in return, but back them up with some information. --E.

 

Ooooh, too bad. Those poor Iraqi terrorists!

 

I do not feel sorry for the extremists in Iraq.  I am not bemoaning the U.S. adoption of torture out of a particular love for the likes of Zarqawi.  I'm bemoaning it as a breakdown of our principles.  Under no circumstances may torture be considered one of the legitimate means of getting information from prisoners. 

      But even besides this, the arrests in Iraq are indiscriminate, and reports suggest that torture is being applied to large groups of detainees in hopes that a handful of them know something.  So many of "those poor Iraqi terrorists" are probably not Iraqi terrorists but just Iraqis. 

     Again: the Red Cross estimates 70-80 percent of the detainees are unconnected to the insurgency.

 

How did they ever endure the 'torture' they've been subjected to by the evil Americans??

 

Evil Americans?  Any country or culture has the potential to fall into evil.  There was nothing inherently evil about Germany, one of Europe's most civilized nations, but look what happened there in the '30s and '40s.  Too many Americans are unwilling to recognize that, even though they are Americans, they may begin down such a slippery slope.  That's why civil liberties are so important.  That's why human rights, taken as a matter of principle, are so important.  To hold to such principles keeps America strong.  To drift from them weakens us.

      Evil Americans?  I never would use the term.  You pro-Bush types seem to think that criticizing the current administration's policies necessarily means one also believes Americans are evil.  I'm guessing this is because you like to live in a world of white hats and black hats, a world where the white hats must always be praised, while the black hats are necessarily sub-human. 

      I am not anti-American.  I am anti-Bush, more so with every month that passes.  I write my recent commentaries in order to do something to protect America's future from the narrow group of extremists that constitutes Bush's administration.

 

I mean...stripping them naked, siccing dogs on them (I never did hear of whether any dog DID ever bite one), and...my God... even calling them 'bad names'.

 

I guess, in true Bushie fashion, you didn't read the articles my argument was grounded on, the articles I linked from the text.  Specifically: Detainees do not die in American custody by being called bad names.  Dogs that don't bite will not cause "death by suffocation."

 

Gee, how about the indignation and the mental anguish suffered by those who have had their heads lopped off or brains blown out by the enemy on prime time TV??  Who weeps for them??

 

What was done to Nicholas Berg was despicable.  I hope Zarqawi and his thugs are caught.  Unfortunately, the policies of this administration are pushing more young men to join Zarqawi's cause.  Thus even if Zarqawi is caught, there will be others to take up his position.  And I believe the numbers of these others is swelling rather than decreasing.

 

I guess the end DOES justify the means if it protects just ONE other American from the car bombs

 

I guess it doesn't.  No, it doesn't.  So, good job.  You've finally come out and said, "Yes, torture is the right way to go."  Congratulations.  This at least implies that you acknowledge torture is part of current policy.

 

(that also have killed hundreds of other innocent Iraqi men, women and yes, even children), the roadside bombs triggered by those poor 'freedom fighters' as they try to liberate their country from the 'oppressive' occupation by the evil Americans.  Where were your cries of indignation against the brutal Regime of Sadam Hussein as they murdered 1000s of their own people at Abu Greibe as well as the hundreds of other Death Camps conveniently located around the country??

 

Where were yours?  In fact I did protest against the regime of Saddam Hussein, back in the '80s when the Reagan and Bush I governments were still supporting him. So where were your cries of indignation?  Where?  And again I ask: Where? 

     I suspect at that time you didn't even know about Saddam Hussein and his regime because you people only pay attention to things when the major media report them.  At that time you didn't know about the brutality of Saddam's government because he was on our side and thus his crimes were not an issue. 

     How many times have we heard this young Bush raise his mantra of "Saddam even gassed his own people"?  Did you know that when Saddam gassed the Kurds that the UN tried to impose economic sanctions on him?  Did you know that the motion was defeated because the Reagan Administration didn't want it?  Did you know this?  At that time Colin Powell, then national security advisor, tried to make the claim that there was no conclusive proof Saddam had actually gassed anyone and that therefore sanctions on Iraq would be "premature." This regardless of mountains of evidence, including video footage of village after village of the dead.  It was the American Republicans defending their great ally Saddam Hussein.  And where were you when all this was happening?  You were voting to put these same Republicans back in office, that's where.

     No, it was only when Saddam invaded Kuwait that they decided to call him by his true name: a vicious tyrant.  In short: The fact that Saddam tortured and murdered tens of thousands of his own people was of no concern to these great humanists, the Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld clan.  It was only when he tried to take too many of the geopolitical cards (i.e., oil) into his own hands that he was called a tyrant.

      Did you ever read about how Saddam came to power?  Absolutely gruesome story.  But there it was, just a few years later, our great humanist scholar Donald Rumsfeld himself cordially meeting Saddam in Baghdad, shaking hands with our new American ally.  "Yes, Saddam, we'll sell you the helicopters, we'll sell you the weapons.  Gas?  You want nerve gas, you say?"

     Yes, your Republicans are a slippery bunch, oozing hypocrisy from every pore.  You amusingly evoke the term "freedom fighters" in your letter: you imply that I am someone who thinks the terrorists in Iraq are "freedom fighters."  No, it is not me who would use this kind of term for terrorists.  It is, once again, the Reagan people who created it.  They applied it to the Contras in Nicaragua.  Just as the Reagan/Bush people also applied it to the fighters in Afghanistan they so short-sightedly armed and trained--the ones that would eventually become the Taliban and Al Qaeda. 

     "Hear ye, hear ye!  All Muslim fundamentalists who want to learn how to make explosives and use high-tech weapons!  All fundamentalists from all Muslim countries around the globe are welcome!  Come, brothers, with your volcanoes of fanatical hate, and we will train you for free!  We will arm you and train you and build you camps here in the placid hills of Afghanistan!  Yes, brothers, we will give you the know-how you can later use to blow us up!"

     And after training bin-Laden and friends, and after arming Saddam Hussein, the Republicans now accuse us moderates of being politically irresponsible.  It's absurd.

     You ask where I was when Saddam was murdering thousands?  Where were you?  And again I ask: Where were you?    

     What's more: Saddam has two "d"s, not one.  And your "Abu Graibe" is way off: it's Abu Ghraib. 

     If you'd really done any reading on the Iraq conflict and what's happening you'd probably know how to spell these things, no?  How do you expect to debate about things you can't even spell, for Chrissakes?

 

Yes we "Bushies" DO abhor the tragedies exhibited by a few misguided idiots who were probably raised in homes by liberal parents believing in the "anything goes" if you can get away with it, or the, 'if it's fun...do it' mentality that prevades society today.

 

Again: Did you read the articles linked in my letter?  "A few misguided idiots"?  Why don't you read something on this issue?  If you did, you'd know how absurd it is to talk about a few misguided idiots.  The same kinds of interrogations as occurred in Abu Ghraib were occurring in Afghanistan.  And are still occurring there.  In other words: It is not a matter of a few misguided idiots, but of a system of torture being applied in U.S. detention centers in multiple locations.  How can you keep harping on this "few misguided idiots" theory when it has been disproven?

 

But I believe, and apparently so do 95% of all Iraqis, that the world is a better place without Sadam and his henchmen. I know, you liberals probably feel differently about this. I suppose you all would feel vindicated if the French, Germans and Russians led the fight to reinstate him so they could all continue to milk the country of their precious resources and get their share of the under- the -table plunder they were receiving.

 

But, for our OWN security and the safety of our Homeland, I don't feel any remorse for the treatment that these terrorists receive and deserve if it means obtaining the information that will protect us from the strident attempts to obliterate us from the earth. So, "get a life" liberals. Oh, excuse me, but I've got to run. Moore's "Fahrenheit" is opening today in Milwaukee and I've just got to see it. Now don't you all be telling me the ending, I DO want to experience it for myself.

 

And remember, a vote for George W. Bush will insure that the fight to save our collective behinds will continue.  But ah yes, there ARE times that I wish Kerry might win. Personally, I don't know about you, but I don't think I'm paying enough in taxes to support the Congress and the Senate and I really WOULD like to pay more.

 

Peace brothers!!

 

I think the world is a better place without Saddam in power, yes.  But I think the Iraq war was a mistake.  For one, it has weakened our fight against terrorism and strengthened the terrorists.  Arguments supporting this at:

 

http://www.necessaryprose.com/binladenvotes.htm

 

I of course do not think America is evil, but I think America can make mistakes.  And the Bush Administration is taking America in the wrong direction.  No, let me restate that.  The Bush Administration is taking America in a handful of wrong directions simultaneously.

 

Finally, at the end of your diatribe, your true colors come through.

 

E.M.

 

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