Republican torture ‘compromise’

Despite the thin rhetoric to the contrary, it is clear that the current American administration tolerates and abets torture, indefinite detention without charge, and other basic violations of human rights. This is an astonishing error on their part. It contradicts international law, including laws that have helped to protect Americans captured by foreign regimes. It significantly diminishes whatever claim to moral superiority the United States can use to help guide regimes entirely dismissive of human rights on to a more acceptable path. Finally, it neglects the very ideals about the respect for the human person that form the basis for the American constitution and the general American consensus on the nature of political ethics.

We can only hope that a saner administration will follow in the wake of this myopic crew.

The mainstream media is reporting on this here, here, here, here, here, and in many other places.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

17 thoughts on “Republican torture ‘compromise’”

  1. In a very real sense, the spirit of the constitution and the idea of an American dream really only applies to Americans these days. Its a shame that these (outright good) notions of rights, liberty and respect apply only to those that have their coveted citizenship and not to Mexican “illegals”, prisioners at Gitmo or those suffering in Darfur. Not that I’m advocating a moralalistic crusade but well… I guess I am.

  2. I am with you here 100%. If democratic governments cannot condemn all forms of torture, let’s smash their idiocy down.

  3. The liberal virtues – tolerance, compromise, reason – remain as valuable as ever, but they cannot be preached by those who are mad with fear or mad with vengeance. In any case, preaching always rings hollow. We must be prepared to defend them by force, and the failures of the sated, cosmopolitan nations to do so has left the hungry nations sick with contempt for us.

    Ignatieff, Michael. Blood and Belonging. BBC Books: London. 1993.

  4. Slightly off-topic, but you make me think of the famous Milgram experiment (and to a lesser extent, the Stanford prison experiment).

    I wonder…if people were more aware of these things, would that make them willing to demand a different course of their governments?


  5. Mike,

    It does seem as though people who know more about such experiments are more likely to refuse to participate in future versions of them. At the same time, these experiments involved very little in the way of coercion, whereas I expect that many cases where people engage in torture involve quite a lot, directed towards some of those committing human rights abuses.

  6. For those who care about public opinion in that part of the world, it is a news source to watch.

  7. Torture widespread in Afghanistan, Amnesty says
    NATO troops urged to not hand over prisoners
    Peter Goodspeed, National Post
    Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Reports of torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary arrest are so widespread in detention centres run by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security that Amnesty International wants NATO troops in Afghanistan to stop handing prisoners over to authorities there.

  8. The real tragedy of the silence from Denver on the Constitution is that it reinforces the most pernicious lie of the past eight years: that the rule of law is a luxury, not a necessity. Time and again when called to explain the decision to allow torture, strip detainees of the right to habeas corpus, or spy on innocent Americans, Bush administration officials have hit us with the great gooey lie that we cannot afford such niceties in dangerous times. It’s a colossal hoax. The Constitution was written for dangerous times. But to hear them speak in Denver, we can’t afford to talk about the Constitution in economic downturns, either.

  9. Cheney’s Law

    For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — without congressional approval or judicial review.

  10. Still. Big props to McCain for stating that we “must never torture a prisoner ever again.” It shows that McCain—unlike Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Mukasey, Feith. et al—is sufficiently honest to admit that yes we have been torturing prisoners and yes it’s shocking. McCain has said this before although he also disappointed a lot of us when he declined to vote last winter to force the CIA to conform their interrogation techniques to the Army Field Manual (enabling the United States to officially ban torture while still retaining the ability to say, “I know a guy”). If both candidates for president can say aloud that the United States has permitted torture, and understand the significance of that for the rest of the world, it gives me some cause for hope. Not for war crimes prosecutions. I didn’t say I’m drunk here. But at least for some kind of moral reckoning when all this insanity comes to an end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *