Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Torture and terrorism

Hats off to John McCain on making President Bush agree to a ban on the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" of suspected terrorists. Bush caved after McCain obtained overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Previously, Vice President Cheney demanded an exception for the CIA.


The big question is why, why, why was the McCain amendment deemed necessary? After all, the United States has ratified more than one treaty relating to torture.

Consider Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It says, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Why is it necessary to have a law which merely repeats what is in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person ..." The convention also provides that "Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1." And, "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." Not even terrorism!

Why, with all of these treaties is it necessary for John McCain to put forth an amendment that prohibits "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment"? Why, why?

According to our constitution treaties are part of the "supreme law of the land". Thus cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is already againt the law of the United States. So why?

The simple answer is that the Bush administration has shown nothing but contempt for any law that gets in its way. He has willfully violated not only treaties but our constitution and domestic law. He has failed miserably at one of the basic duties of a president, to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The fuss over torture is just another example of the moral bankruptcy of the current administration.

Proponents of torture argue that torture may be necessary to obtain information about future plans of terrorists. But John McCain knows better. He tells us that torture doesn't work because a tortured person may lie. In addition, the information obtained will not make up for the damage done to our image abroad.

George Bush has shamed us before the world.

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