Republican torture ‘compromise’


in Bombs and rockets, Law, Rants, Security

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.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Davy September 26, 2006 at 9:26 pm

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.

Milan September 26, 2006 at 11:04 pm

Somehow, I can remember reading that recently somewhere…

B September 26, 2006 at 11:41 pm

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

R.K. September 26, 2006 at 10:59 pm

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.

Mike Kushnir September 27, 2006 at 4:01 am

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?


Milan September 27, 2006 at 5:57 am


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.

Anonymous September 27, 2006 at 6:26 am

Al Jazeera is part of the ‘mainstream media?’

Milan September 27, 2006 at 6:29 am

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

Ben September 27, 2006 at 10:48 am
Milan May 12, 2007 at 3:19 am

US general warns against torture

Gen Petraeus said he understood the stress troops in Iraq are under
The top US commander in Iraq has warned his troops not to sanction torture or abuse of Iraqi detainees and has urged them to fight by the rules.

Milan May 14, 2007 at 5:33 pm

On torture, see also this post on Antonia’s blog.

Anon November 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

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.

Milan November 16, 2007 at 12:14 am

Torture didn’t work in Renaissance Europe. And it doesn’t work now. Real historic accounts of real people being tortured in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it composes a body of fact and experience that speaks directly to the present.

. August 29, 2008 at 10:56 am

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.

. September 1, 2008 at 3:18 am

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.

. September 29, 2008 at 10:57 am

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.

. May 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

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