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  #1  
Old 09-26-2006, 04:12 PM
Solve et Coagula Solve et Coagula is offline
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The United States of Barbarism

The United States of Barbarism

by James Bovard, September 25, 2006

The U.S. Senate is cutting a deal with President Bush to make America a banana republic. Last week, three senators reached an agreement with the White House that will de facto permit the CIA to continue torturing people around the world. And the deal will prevent anyone — including Bush administration officials — from being held liable for the torture.

This is latest sign that our elected representatives in Washington believe that the federal government deserves absolute power over everyone in the world. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned recently that Bush’s efforts to gut the Geneva Conventions would cause the world to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”

But more important, the Senate-White House torture deal should cause Americans to doubt the moral basis of their entire government. After 9/11, many Bush administration officials seemed determined to use any and every means to bludgeon people suspected of terrorism or terrorist intent. The Justice Department delivered to the White House a memo in August 2002 explaining why Bush was not bound by the War Crimes Act or the Anti-Torture Act.

The memo began by largely redefining torture out of existence. It then explained why even if someone died during torture, the torturer might not be guilty if he felt the torture was necessary to prevent some worse evil. The memo concluded by revealing that the president has the right to order torture because he is above the law, at least during wartime (even if Congress has not declared war).

The Justice Department declared that the president may effectively exempt government officials from federal criminal law, noting that “Congress cannot compel the President to prosecute outcomes taken pursuant to the President’s own constitutional authority. If Congress could do so, it could control the President’s authority through the manipulation of federal criminal law.”

The memo’s absolutism would have brought a smile to despots everywhere: “As the Supreme Court has recognized ... the President enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his Commander-in-Chief authority and in conducting operations against hostile forces.... we will not read a criminal statute as infringing on the President’s ultimate authority in these areas.”

Thus, the “commander-in-chief” label automatically swallows up the rest of the Constitution. Yet, as Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh observed, “If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution.”

This is the doctrine that the Senate-White House deal largely codifies. It will be up to the president to declare which interrogation methods U.S. agents can use — almost regardless of the Geneva Conventions. It will be up to the president to decree who will face “rough” interrogation.

The details of the torture deal vivify how our politicians no longer give a darn about maintaining even a pretense of due process. The agreement will permit the use of coerced confessions in military tribunals — turning the judicial clock back to the 1600s. The Washington Post noted that the agreement permits “defense attorneys to challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable.” Thus, there is a presumption of correctness to whatever accusation is bludgeoned out of people in secret prisons around the world.

And it will be almost impossible to disprove an accusation when a defense lawyer is not allowed to question — or perhaps even know — who made the charge.
But that is fair enough for the U.S. Congress.

The New York Times noted that the agreement “would impose new legal standards that it forbids the courts to enforce.” Thus, it will be impossible for the vast majority of detainees at Guantanamo to challenge their detention.

The unverified accusations of U.S. government officials will still be the highest law of the land. The habeas corpus rights that go back to the Magna Charta of 1215 will be null and void under the agreement for many, if not most, detainees.

The torture scandal shows what happens when politicians and political appointees are permitted to redefine barbarism out of existence. If the government can effectively claim a right to torture, then all other limits on government power are practically irrelevant. What would it take to make the public acquiesce to the torture of Americans? Would simply applying an “odious” label (such as “cult member” at Waco, or “Muslim” with John Walker Lindh) to the victims be sufficient?

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy [2006] as well as The Bush Betrayal [2004], Lost Rights [1994] and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

http://www.fff.org/comment/com0609f.asp


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  #2  
Old 09-26-2006, 06:54 PM
goodwitchofthesouth's Avatar
goodwitchofthesouth goodwitchofthesouth is offline
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Location: The beautiful south!
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Re: The United States of Barbarism

But of course the government wants to control every facet of our lives.
They are pack of rogues that we put in WA and some would say we got
the gov we deserved.

If however some are right that roughing up a person who probably has
information that could save American lives, dont you think anything
than can, should be done? If your familys life was on the line would
you choose to play nice and ask "please"?
I wouldnt!



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  #3  
Old 09-26-2006, 08:06 PM
Spare Spare is offline
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Re: The United States of Barbarism

The supposition that prisoners of war are accorded due process is a faulty one -- Reference the Geneva Convention accords.

I am vehemently opposed to torture - I will march in the streets to stop it.

Please provide your definition of torture, and give 5 examples where the US has tortured someone. If I agree, I will take it to the streets.

Thank you.

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  #4  
Old 09-26-2006, 09:23 PM
Solve et Coagula Solve et Coagula is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: St.Gallen, Switzerland
Posts: 503
Re: The United States of Barbarism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spare
The supposition that prisoners of war are accorded due process is a faulty one -- Reference the Geneva Convention accords.

I am vehemently opposed to torture - I will march in the streets to stop it.

Please provide your definition of torture, and give 5 examples where the US has tortured someone. If I agree, I will take it to the streets.

Thank you.
C'mon, Spare, the question is more about, where on earth does the current US administration stick to the Geneva convention? so if you still need some examples from my side, dont be surprised if you finally end up on the street... before you'll make it to the street... smile

Best wishes from Switzerland

lwwb
Roger



Last edited by Solve et Coagula : 09-26-2006 at 09:26 PM.
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