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November 04, 2005

The Republic for which it Stands

When I pledged allegiance to the U.S.A. I took the words at face value. I thought "the republic for which it stands" was something more than just empty words. I thought it was a nation that valued human life and dignity, a land of opportunity. A country that offered liberty and justice for all.

Did I pledge allegiance to a dream?

Check it out.The Associated Press points out that:

Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration is floating a proposal that would exempt covert agents outside the Defense Department from a Senate-approved ban on torturing detainees in U.S. custody.

Again, according to the The Jurist points out:

The White House recently proposed absolving CIA agents abroad from proposed legislation advanced by Senator John McCain barring the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" of detainees.

So in a nutshell, the government is asking permission of itself to torture terrorists suspects. Not convicts. Suspects.

They are holding them without trial for undisclosed amounts of time in top secret prison camps scattered around in different countries.

Is this liberty? Is this justice?

Go ahead, read about it.

The Central Intelligence Agency has held and interrogated some of its most important al Qaeda suspects at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

According to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents, the secret facility is part of a larger covert prison system that has set up compounds at various times in Thailand, Afghanistan, and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The existence and location of these facilities, called "black sites" in government documents, are known to only a few US officials and are indicative of the CIA's unconventional war on terror.

Another sorce points out:

There is mounting evidence that countries known to practice torture have been specifically selected to receive certain suspects for interrogation in an attempt to distance the USA from the abuse, the rights organization said. This is outsourcing torture.

Unbelievable!

First off, it’s sick, inhumane, and terrible. It’s against everything I thought that America stood for.

Second, how is this going to help to stop terrorism? This is only going to fuel anti-Americanism.

Since when did the land of the free arrest and torture suspects with no trial? And when did the home of the brave start slaughtering people from the air?

The Post mentions that about 20 people were killed late yesterday by two U.S. airstrikes. "The people gathered to rescue people whose house was bombed in the first strike," said one neighbor. "A short time after they gathered, another plane came and bombed the house again, killing most of them."

America, do not be deceived, you reap what you sow. Stop sowing hatred! Stop sowing violence! Stop sowing seeds torture and injustice. Stop slaughtering the innocent, the civilians.

Stop sowing terror.

Posted by ian on November 4, 2005 01:48 AM

Comments

OK, I'll point this out before you do, If you go to links they have headlines like, "White House: Policy forbids torture of all terror suspects" but don't be decieved by the headlines.

Read farther down if you're interested. You'll find my quotes. It makes no sense that the White House is offering assurances that they won't torture anybody while they are asking permission to do it.

Posted by: Ian on November 4, 2005 12:33 AM

Not saying I agree with this, but here's another way to look at it:

If we don't beat it out of them, terrorists will never say anything. Think about it. They can help kill us, plot to kills us, whatever, and if we find out about it and arrest them - hey, no sweat. They'll get three square meals a day, a safe bed and their own toilet because the Red Cross (and indignant Americans) say they should. Then, after a lengthy trial that convicts them of plotting to destroy our country, we either kill them (probably painlessly, definitely within minutes) and they go on happily on their way to the glorious afterlife, or we don't kill them and throw them in prison where they eventually get out due to some technicality.

Meanwhile we can't get information from them about who else is trying to kill us... ME... and how they plan to do it because, shoot, it just isn't right.

Again, not saying I agree with the policies, just giving some food for thought.

Posted by: The Snake Man on November 4, 2005 01:35 AM

Yea, this is pretty horrible. One of the things that angers me the most is that fact that this will more than likely come and go without most people ever taking knowledge of it. Horrible things will continue to happen and people will ignore it unless it directly affects them.

I think one of the points TheSnakeMan is missing is the fact that they want to do this without trial. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? The foundations on which this country was built on are being ignored. Liberty, justice, and now this. It really is sickening.

Posted by: jack on November 4, 2005 06:43 AM

As a watcher of the TV series 24 I can see SnakeMan's point, for sure. There were times when a bomb is counting down and someone who is without a doubt involved needs to be given some inspiration to share, and I was amazed how often I'd be cheering for Jack to get that information "by any means necassary."

But in real life, Jack's point is very important. I think that the vast majority of the people detained at Abu Ghraib were found out to be completely innocent, like around 90%. Horrible policies often get implemented because an ounce of them makes sense, they are like trojan horses. So you think, "But we need to save lives" and then you end up monsters.

There are reasons that we agree not to torture people.

1.) If we torture people, then our own soldiers and citizens are more likely to be tortured. Think of it as the Golden Rule being played out. . . as we do unto others, others will see fit to do unto us.

2.) It flies in the face of our own concept of human rights (right to a fair trial, etc.) There is no doubt that we will torture innocent people. Do we want that to represent us?

Plus the fact. . . DICK CHENEY should not be deciding on this at all. The VP is not in the Chain of Command, he is a glorified understudy who should advise, but at no time should a VP be creating policy.

God help us. We're all going to need a bath when this administrations run is over.

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 4, 2005 09:19 AM

We were studying this in AP US a couple days ago.... Im glad Im getting more info on it. I was really upset at what my teacher was telling us on that The bush administration is purposly turning their heads to the torturing techniques they use and their whole reason on it is because they're not US citizens.
WHAT?!
So just because they're not US citizens, they can't have their natural rights? They are human beings too and yea some may be conspiring aganist the gov't but like what Jason said...most are innocent and the US imprisons and tortures them. I hate this all and I wish i can do something! It's horrible to hear all this now when it's been going on for awhile. We also just found out all the details on the patriot act but that's a different discussion....
I really do hate this administration...ah! It makes me so frustrated!

Posted by: Poncho on November 4, 2005 11:19 AM

This reminds me...
Gosh Dangit, Gearge. They interpreted your hidden message in the state of the union address!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous on November 4, 2005 11:51 AM

Liberty and justice for all . . . (all being everyone except Arabs, Africans, Jews . . . Now that I think about it, "Liberty and justice for a select few, on very rigid terms").

Posted by: Uncle Sam on November 4, 2005 03:29 PM

Yes, let's do nothing. Let's just ask for information from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the key planner of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I'm pretty sure that'll work.

Posted by: Jeremiah Johnson on November 4, 2005 03:40 PM

As the "GIVE ME the location of the rebel base" scene in star wars shows. . . someone truly committed to a cause isn't going to give up real information, even under the threat of torture. These people were absolutely willing to DIE, you think they are going to undermine their "mission" to avert a little pain. Probably the only thing you could really do would be to threaten a loved one.

Should we start doing that? It might work.

Actually. All the 9/11 terrorists were Arabs. If all we care about is "what works," why don't we round up all the Arabs and put them in internment camps until this all blows over. Or at least we could force them to have special papers and special rules for traveling and purchasing and stuff like that. Like maybe they would have to always have a government agent assigned to them who would personally approve everything they did.

That might work.

There are no terrorist attacks in Communist China.

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 4, 2005 07:24 PM

1. Jason - you underestimate the technology and methods we have. I believe we could get information from anyone, no matter how dedicated they are. Problem is not all of the methods are legal or humane. But that's a seperate issue to be dealt with after determining whether or not torture should ever be used.

2. Jack - A good lawyer can drag a trial out for years. It's really a delicate balance between right and wrong, but I think "field justice" has it's place. Also, there is a difference between being legally innocent and really innocent. I don't believe the U.S. went out after 9/11 and just randomly rounded up people of middle-eastern descent. There were a few mistakes, sure, but by and large the people that were imprisoned were rounded up because they knew people, or knew people that knew people, or were acting suspiciously. I wouldn't have you think the U.S. government or military is infallible, but I would say that the public's impression that "oh no, thousands of regualr joes are being tortured for no reason" is way overblown.

3. Jason - I strongly disagree that actions by the U.S. will affect how terrorists treat us. They were beheading Americans long before this whole thing came out. Think about it - their goal is to destroy us. They aren't making demands, there are no conditions we are not meeting other than living on their planet. The only thing that would be affected by our policies is the opinion of Americans overseas.

Also, would you rather risk torturing an innocent person or risk having thousands die in bomb blasts we didn't know about?

Posted by: The Snake Man on November 4, 2005 08:46 PM

I don't completely disagree with you Snakeman. . . i think all of your points are fair. Again, I watch 24. I want Jack to torture the terrorists. I know what you mean.

But.

It doesn't have to be either/or. It doesn't have to either innocents get bombed or innocents get tortured. Does it?

And yes, the US government has admitted that the released pictures of Abu Ghraib led to an increase in insurgency and attacks on military and civilions. It's part of the public record, in a court case where the government's lawyers were arguing why more Abu Ghraib pictures should remain classified and not released to the public.

I know the hard core terrorists won't be bothered either way, they already want to kill you. But the torture pushes many more of the otherwise moderates over the edge.

It's just a bad policy. . .

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 4, 2005 09:38 PM

I guess what I'm saying is that there are SO many other things we could be doing before resorting to this.

1.) Secure our borders against intrusion. Many miles are wide open.
2.) Examine all imports, not randomly checking 1 in a 100.
3.) Actually analyze and properly communicate across all agencies the evidence we gather. We probably knew enough to stop 9/11 without any torture if we had all our agencies working together. (This is not a criticism of Bush. . . more of siloed bureacracy that ran through all the administrations.)
4.) Create a National Guard that Guards our Nation.

That's a start. . .let's get our own act together acting ethically before we result to the grey areas.

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 4, 2005 09:45 PM

Dear America,
go home and die.

Posted by: Anonymous on November 5, 2005 01:40 AM

I am as concerned as any of you about the US' shaky and suspect approach towards prisoners/interrogation camps.

That said, if given the choice, I would much rather choose to be in a US camp than an Arab one... or a Chinese one... or a Vietnamese one... and certainly more so than an Iraq one.

As for Uncle Sam and his nebulous claims - where would he rather be? France? They aren't doing so hot on these issues, at the moment, either. England? The poor and disenfranchised there are even more militant and upset with their government. Canada? It would help if there were people there....

I hate some US policies and I want vehemently want them to change. I gladly throw my weight behind all efforts to reform any of our inhumane policies. Sorry Denzel Washington, but in my book, I simply can't justify torturing people to get information - even if they are scum of the earth.

But I cannot help but notice that is easy to hate the powerful and cast the blame on The Man.

Posted by: jd on November 5, 2005 08:47 AM

Snakeman, a couple of points you are missing.

1. It is not just a few random mistakes here and there, but mostly terrorists that are arrested. The VAST majority of "suspects" rounded up, imprisoned, held without any kind of trial, and very badly mistreated are innocent. You said they get people who "know people, or know people that know people." Do you realize how horrible that is. If your friends brother in law knew someone who knew something of a plan you had never heard of, would you think it is fair for you to be arrested and tortured for months without trial?

2. Once you start to draw the lines of superiority and treat people as less than human, all ethics go out the window. People in Abu Ghraib were raped, tortured, and killed. These events took place NOT even in the context of interrogation. If you allow treating people in inhumane ways during interrogation, that will carry over into the way those and other prisoners are treated on a regular basis.

Posted by: Uncle Sam on November 5, 2005 09:12 AM

JD - your point about "which government-run camp" would you rather be interned in was a good one. However, one of the parts of this new policy is that the US will transfer those it wants tortured to camps in countries that are more comfortable with torture.

So it's kind of like we want to do it, we just want to keep our hands clean.

We're outsourcing our torture!

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 5, 2005 09:51 AM

I believe "torture" or "extreme measures" should be employed in some situations. These situations should have clear cut rules and be highly regulated.

1. There should be some sort of torture warrant. This would put a very heavy burden on the government to demonstrate by factual evidence the neccessity of torture.

2. The situation in questions should be clear cut case of a ticking-bomb, or some such event. It should be an immediate threat to people's lives and administered as only a last resort.

3. Never under any circumstances should low-level people be allowed to administer the torture. If torture is deemed necessary, it should be done openly. (You know, like TV coverage, jk) There should be accountability, with approval from either the president of the United States or by a Supreme Court justice.

I think it's naive to think that torture should never be used. Though, the qualifications for the measures should be very narrow and not taken lightly.

Posted by: Childish on November 5, 2005 06:38 PM

That was the least childish post Childish has ever written.

Posted by: Jason – Band Member [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 5, 2005 08:39 PM

lol

Posted by: Childish on November 5, 2005 09:02 PM

This is nothing new...

In 1942, 120,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up and placed in camps due to hysteria following the attack on Pearl Harbour. (http://www.lib.utah.edu/spc/photo/9066/9066.htm)

Between 1900-1970, approximately 65,000 people deemed "unfit" to reproduce were forcibly sterilized by the state. (http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/library/historical/eugenics/)

Posted by: Zach on November 5, 2005 09:06 PM

What's wrong with our torture policy now? Why isn't it working? Where are the precedents that say, "We could have avoided this disaster if only that guy that we thought had something to do with it . . . if only we had tortured that guy."

And, actually, I think Childish has some good ideas. The problem is, if there is a "ticking-bomb," the military shouldn't have to stop and say, "Hold on. Let me call the president and see if we can torture this guy (whose got a bomb strapped to him) to see where his partner is."

It's just a whole new set of rules when you're dealing with an adversary that has no goal except your utter destruction and who welcomes his or her own death. It's a psychotic evil that is going to take untested methods to defeat.

There. Xerxes' first serious post EVER.

Posted by: Xerxes [TypeKey Profile Page] on November 6, 2005 05:30 AM

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