Face it, America: Our president is a torturer
OUR PRESIDENT is a torturer.
This is such an appalling fact, so at odds with who we think we are, the statement of it needs to be repeated and phrased in different ways so that decent people can take it in.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney want to torture people.
Those Bush supporters who might have dismissed the abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as the excesses of a few enlisted men and women now must face the announced wish of this administration to allow the CIA to torture people in secret prisons. This is the nub of the dispute over the McCain amendment now in Congress. The amendment would specifically outlaw cruel and inhuman punishment of prisoners by any government agency. Vice President Cheney is lobbying against it. If the law is passed, Bush has threatened to veto it.
So this is where we are. The White House, where President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, is now occupied by a man who wants to be able to strip people naked, hang them by their wrists from the ceiling and beat them unto death. He wants to urinate on their holy books. He wants to keep people in the dark without food or water, assaulted by savage dogs and mocked by sexual perverts. Documented evidence shows this is what has been done to prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq.
The White House, where President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, is now occupied by a man who wants to be able to strip people naked, hang them by their wrists and beat them unto death.|
BUSH AND Cheney say agents of the CIA need to be able to torture accused (not convicted, only accused) terrorists to protect America. That is a coward's argument. America defeated Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Stalinist Russia. We won those victories against regimes that used torture without our presidents saying they needed to torture in kind. Undoubtedly "excesses" on our side occurred during those conflicts, but there is a quantum difference between genuine excesses by men and women in the throes of conflict and the sober, considered policy of our highest elected officials.
There are many practical arguments against torture. The "experts" say information gained by such means is often worthless because the victim is only saying what the torturer wants to hear. Military men say if we torture the enemies we capture, then our enemies will be justified in torturing our soldiers. Diplomats say that if we torture, we will lose the "moral high ground," making it difficult to find allies abroad.
All these arguments might be true, but it doesn't matter. The reason we should not torture people is because it is wrong.
IF AMERICAN values mean anything, surely they mean opposition to torture. If voters who used to support Bush are beginning to doubt him, then surely his own policies advocating torture should confirm those doubts. During the last five years, this president has rammed through countless measures contrary to the true nature of our country, until many Americans have despaired or lost the capacity for outrage. But rarely in our history has a moral choice been so clear. If ever there was a time to stand up and be counted, it is now.
America must renounce torture. And Americans must renounce this president.
Richard Tillotson is a writer who lives and works in Honolulu.