Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture

It's not enough that Rumsfeld and probably Bush not just tacitly condoned but actively encouraged studies of optimal torture regimes, creating a climate in which undeniable and disgusting torture was used against Iraqi civilians, including children. And at Guantanamo (more). Even they at least had the hypocrisy to attempt to do the Iraq torture planning under wraps. (Hypocrisy being “the tribute vice pays to virtue”.) Meanwhile, at home, being too delicate to torture domestically, the Administration quietly subcontracted the job to Syria. (See my post almost exactly a year ago, Maher Arar Affair: What is the Pluperfect of 'Cynic'?.)

Comes now a group of Congressional Republicans who are pure vice, and are not even trying to hide it: they have proposed that US law be amended to remove protections against torture — ie to legitimate torture, to plan to torture — for people we label “terrorists” (modern unpersons). The full horrid details are at Obsidian Wings: Legalizing Torture. The key move would be to exclude “terrorists” from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The “terrorists” could be held in secret unless they could somehow overcome (without lawyers or witnesses?) a presumption of guilt. When they failed to overcome this impossible burden they could be subject to “extraordinary rendition” which is bureaucrat for “being ported or transferred to a country that may engage in torture”—a deportation that currently would be a serious violation of US law.

Anyone who votes for people capable of supporting these policies has blood on their hands. Not to mention what they are doing to the image of the US as the 'City on the Hill', the beacon to mankind. Once we descend into the torture pit, we're just arguing about circles in Hell.

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23 Responses to Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture

  1. Chris says:

    Oh…my…God.

    Well, people who have been following this blog since at least June will have seen this one coming. Especially since Bush apologists did everything they could to communicate approval of torture. The arguments that torture didn’t work, that it aided the enemy, that it knocked us off the moral high ground, that it was being used on the innocent, and on and on, fell on deaf ears. The enlightenment may as well have never occurred–we are back in the middle ages.

    My only question is a small one. Since the earlier memos assert that the president has the power to ignore law–specifically torture, but presumably any law–then why do we need a bill at this late date?

  2. nigel says:

    I can’t believe it! We are actually are on the same side on this one. I don’t believe that we should start to sink to the terrorists level. I will admit we republicans can sometimes step overboard when it comes to defnding this country. I also find Obsidian’s use of the phrase “outsourcing torture” as offensive. I will also make note that since I started following this site it makes me more skeptical of any information I hear negative about this administration. So I’ll be looking into this further I’ll probaly post agian when I find It’s all a lie.

  3. davidk says:

    It’s not a lie. You can read the legislation for yourself right here. As for the phrase “outsourcing torture,” it seems an accurate enough description. It’s not the language that’s offensive; it’s the legislation.

  4. Chris says:

    Nigel,
    I’m very pleased to see a Republican opposed to this. You’re the first one, and I hope there are many more. In fact, your position–if you stick to it in discussions with your peers–is somewhat courageous in my opinion. You might easily get called a liberal, left-winger, or soft on the terrorists. Don’t let yourself get distracted by defending yourself from these labels, except perhaps to point out that they are irrelevant, but stick to a reasoned and reasonable argument and fight like hell.

  5. William says:

    Michael, would you consider changing the title of this post? As you know, Katharine’s trying to get bloggers of good will from the right to link to her ObWi post. But Republicans who follow the permalink will see REPUBLICAN = TORTURER halfway down the trackback section. I understand how you feel but I don’t think it helps build a bipartisan coalition on the issue. Is there anything you can do to change the text here, and get it changed on the ObWi page too?

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  8. Rich says:

    Hi William,

    The problem is that Republican _DOES_ equal murdering, torturer, at least right now. This is clear now, and the only choice that those purely hypothetical ‘republicans of good will’ can make is to decide if it is more important to be of good will, or to be republicans. Coddling them in order to ‘build a coalition’ against torture is totally absurd.

    There is no ‘middle ground’ on this issue. It is black and white. Republicans are evil, and (most) Democrats are not on this issue.

    If we support torture then we will have truly left the community of nations, and god have mercy on our eternal souls for we will have sacrificed everything in the pursuit of a chimera of security.

  9. William says:

    The thing is, Rich, when you write “Republicans” you’re thinking “The Republican Leadership”. Republican voters with decent instincts, who simply haven’t realised how awful the situation’s got, and who are exactly the right people to put pressure on the Republican leadership, read “Republicans are evil” and think you’re talking about them. And then they go and do something other than help on this issue, because they just aren’t that interested in hanging out with people who think they’re evil. It’s way more important to get Republican voters on board on this issue than it is to score points against the Republican leadership.

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  13. Streak says:

    William,

    You are exactly right. I have been arguing with my Repub friends that they are much better than this administration. My conservative friends actually believe in limited government and civil liberties. My friends believe in the faith they talk about–they just don’t talk–and there is no way that Christianity is compatible with torture. It is just time for the good Repubs to take out the trash.

  14. eb says:

    This isn’t a comment that will appeal to ‘Republicans of good will’, but it needs saying. This attempt to legalize extraordinary rendition is not the U.S.’s first violation of its treaty obligation not to condone or participate in torture. It is, however, an explicit ownership of that violation to be enshrined in law, truly ‘in our name.’

    The United States government took this country to the circles of hell long ago, training the security forces of one dictatorship after another in torture techniques from the 1950s onwards.

  15. Ted says:

    Maybe it’s just a little too late for Republican voters with distinct who don’t want to hang out with people who think they’re evil. I’m willing to allow 10% for lunatics. That is, *anything* that can make it onto a ballot is likely to get as much as 10% of the vote, from people who have no idea what it means.

    But tell me, would it make you “Proud to be an American” if the pro-torture faction got 25% of the popular vote? How about 35%? How about 51%?

    I’m just so depressed I can barely stand up any more. There are three possible outcomes to the November 2 election: sad (Kerry wins), horrible (Bush wins), and terrifying (another variant on the last presidential election).

    Clarification: I think Kerry is likely to be one of the best presidents ever, considering the situation he’ll inherit, but I see no way he’ll get more than 90% of the votes, so we’ll all have to admit to the world that the pro-torture faction is (at least) a powerful minority in our country.

  16. winatallcost says:

    By a show of hands, who cried when they saw the pictures of naked prisoners at Abu Ghraib? I know I did. I cried with laughter! That was hilarious! What a great prank. I wish I could have been there for that. My brother was treated worse than that when pledging for his fraternity back in the 80′s. He was stripped nude, made to run through a girls sorority and then sit on a solid block of ice for one hour. After that he was repeatedly hit by spit balls and had to wear a womans dress to class… that was the first day of rush. Abu Ghraib is a walk in the park compared to that. My brother was just trying to go to college, he hadn’t cut off any American heads or fired any RPG’s at anyone. If he had, maybe his college buddies would have photographed his genitals. Can you imagine?

    [Froomkin's note: I think this wins the prize for most stupid and offense comment posted to this blog. I thought of deleting it because it violates my comment policy...then I thought, no, leave it up, show the depths to which Bush defenders must sink -- equating VOLUNTARY participation in college pranks with sodomizing children.]

  17. winatallcost says:

    [I have deleted this comment as violative of the comments policy.]

  18. Chris says:

    Michael,
    I think you’ve got it right–or else this is really a Bush-hater posing as a Bush supporter with the intent of caricaturing them as idiotic and barely human. Republicans would be insulted that such as this would have anything to do with them, which was–I guess–the intent.

  19. winatallcost says:

    Yo Froomkin, what children were sodomized? By whom? I missed that story. Are you talking about the children here in the United States? Let’s look at that shall we:

    Approximately 101,000 cases of child sexual abuse were substantiated in 1998. Youth 12 through 17 had crime victimization rates over two times higher than adults, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The overall rate of violent crime for youth ages 12 through 17 is 92 per 1,000. Victims 12 through 17 constitute 25% of all violent crime victims, according to the NCVS.

    The approximate total number of violent crime victims from birth through 17 is 2,883,000:
    2,101,000 twelve through 17 year olds
    782,000* birth through 11 year olds

    The approximate number of juvenile crime victims known to police each year is 849,000:
    619,000 twelve through 17 year olds
    230,000* birth through 11 year olds

    *1997 National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data indicating 6% of all violent crimes known to police are to persons 0-11.

    Before you start complaining about the treatment of enemy combatants in Iraq, get your priorities in order.

  20. Michael says:

    Indicentally, the argument that it’s ok to do evil elsewhere because we do it here, is absurd. The argument that one must ‘prioritize’ opposition to torture is barbaric. The argument that private crime, or that US state-government-sponsored or negligently permitted harm it is relevant to our assessment of the performance of the national government requires a robust theory of a certain kind of Federalism usually associated with the excesses of the New Deal court.

  21. winatallcost says:

    You obviously subscribe to the Dan Rather school of fact checking. His career is on a downward spiral as a result. Mixing “hearsay” with political bias is a recipe for disaster. I’m sure Dan would concur.

  22. Tim Ireland says:

    Yes, because Dan Rather got it wrong, we must be wrong too. I see how that works. I should ignore all those official memos from the White House then….

    Something Funny Happened On The Way To Abu Ghraib (Flash show and article/linkfest)

    —–

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