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We Do Not Torture

November 7, 2005

[Yes. It’s all torture, all the time here at The Stump. We’ll get around to being funny soon enough, I swear.]

So, Our Fearless Leader (OFL) said this today:

We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.

This was in response to a question that raised, among other issues, whether he agrees with his Vice President that “…the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?” By ‘legislation to ban torture’ the questioner surely meant Senator McCain’s amendment that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under custody or control of the United States government.” Now, one could quite convincingly make the argument that torture should be included in any honest, complete list of things cruel, inhuman or degrading so surely torture is among the things that such an amendment would be meant to deter. Of course cruel, inhuman or degrading can also cover a lot of other ground: can cover a lot of things besides traditional torture.

You (perhaps): Traditional torture?! What is that, Montag, some sort of veiled reference to the anti-gay-marriage set’s rigor in adhering to the traditional definition of marriage?

Me: Yes.

In their world, OFL and his bunch have hijacked the word torture. In OFL’s world of legalese doubletalk and bumblespeak, torture means something terribly specific— and very different from what it means out here in everybody else’s world.

So, damn you, questioner who asked OFL whether he agrees with his Vice President that “…the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture.” Damn you for letting him play semantics with the motherfucking definition of torture. Don’t you see, you allowed him to bypass all that stuff that doesn’t rise to his standard for torture? You know: all the cruel, inhuman or degrading stuff: the poor man’s torture, if you will.

Just for shits and giggles, Toby, next time you go to ask OFL whether he agrees with his Vice President that “…the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture.” Replace “torture” with “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.” I know, I know. It’s a mouthful. Write that motherfucker down on a slip of paper if you have to.

Oh the bumblespeak that would ensue! This is to say: he won’t answer that question either. But at least the record will show that he dodged the very root of what-the-fuck you are asking him.

[Below the fold: The full question and answer (for context) and what OFL said next!]

Directly after the “We do not torture” bit, OFL continued:

And, therefore, we’re working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible — more possible to do our job. [That’s all a ‘plain-spoken’ ‘straight-shooter’ should have had to say, but OFL would actually keep ramblin’ on, like a middle-schooler bullshitting his way through the essay portion. See below for all his glory.]

“…more possible to do our job.” Holy fuck. Is he saying what it seems like he might be saying? We’ll follow the law (as we interpret it) but where congress is all makin’-laws-n-shit, why not write one up that makes it more possible to do our job: extracting intelligence from uncooperative souls. He fishin’ for more legal torture?

Question: The McCain amendment cites “the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984” in defining prohibited treatment. Here’s the question: If such an amendment passes, and a CIA exemption to such an amendment also passes; would that amount to un-bounding the CIA from not only the amendment, but also the cited amendments, reservations, declarations and understandings? At least under US law?

As we deliberate all of the above, people, let’s try to keep in mind that TORTURE IS WRONG. Thanks.

Here’s your context (link follows):

Q Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.

And, therefore, we’re working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible — more possible to do our job. There’s an enemy that lurks and plots and plans, and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we’ll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that’s why you’re seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress. We want to work together in this matter. We — all of us have an obligation, and it’s a solemn obligation and a solemn responsibility. And I’m confident that when people see the facts, that they’ll recognize that we’ve — they’ve got more work to do, and that we must protect ourselves in a way that is lawful.

White House: President Bush Meets with President Torrijos of Panama

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2 Comments
  1. November 8, 2005 9:56 AM

    A practical suggestions regarding Cheney’s Truly Remarkable Set of Priorities from this morning’s liberal rag editorial:

    “The place to begin [moving Bush’s second term in a direction not disasterous to the future of the U.S.] is with Dick Cheney, the dark force behind many of the administration’s most disastrous policies, like the Iraq invasion and the stubborn resistance to energy conservation. Right now, the vice president is devoting himself to beating back Congressional legislation that would prohibit the torture of prisoners. This is truly a remarkable set of priorities: his former chief aide was indicted, Mr. Cheney’s back is against the wall, and he’s declared war on the Geneva Conventions.”

  2. November 8, 2005 10:24 AM

    I should also point out an excellent piece by Tim Rutten in the Nov. 4 LA Times titled “Pervasive silence about tortue issue”: a serious look at how the media has treated (or not) “torture,” from the incredible fact of the public debate over torture itself, Dershowitz’s “torture warrents” and shifting torture-speak to the recent non-coverage of the “petite gulag” established by the CIA across Eastern Europe. The gist: the media has (wilfully or not) failed to report this most gargantuan of stories, that the U.S. has adopted torture as an instrument of state policy.

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