Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Abu Gharib's Anniversary

Jack Balkin reminds us that we have hit the one year anniversary of the Abu Gharib scandals. And what better way to commemorate it than by exonerating the top officers who allowed it to happen?

Say what you will about Ted Kennedy, but his speech to congress on the matter was stirring, to say the least. After outlining the way that torture scandals have hurt America in the war on terror, Kennedy reminds us that, of all things, torture should be an issue that unites Republicans and Democrats and transcends party affiliation.
Never before has torture been a Republican versus Democrat issue. Instead, it's always been an issue of broad consensus and ideals, reflecting the fundamental values of the nation, and the ideals of the world.

President Reagan signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988. The first President Bush and President Clinton supported its ratification. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Senator Jesse Helms voted 10-0 in 1994 to recommend that the full Senate approve it. The Clinton Administration adopted a "zero tolerance" policy on torture. Torture became something that Americans of all political affiliations agreed never to do.

9/11 didn't nullify this consensus. We did not resolve as a nation to set aside our values and the Constitution after those vicious attacks. We did not decide as a nation to stoop to the level of the terrorists, and those who did deserve to be held fully accountable

Americans continue to be united in the belief that an essential part of winning the war on terrorism and protecting the country for the future is safeguarding the ideals and values that America stands for at home and around the world.

That includes the belief that torture is still beyond the pale. The vast majority of Americans strongly reject the cruel interrogation tactics used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo -- including the use of painful stress positions, sexual humiliation, threatening prisoners with dogs, and shipping detainees to countries that practice torture. The American people hold fast to our most fundamental values. It is time for all branches of the government to uphold those values as well. It is clear beyond a doubt that we cannot trust this Republican Congress or this Republican Administration to conduct the full investigation that should have been conducted long before now. We've had enough whitewashes by the Administration and Congressional Committees.

Remember that this was not torture to uncover a nuclear bomb, but rather torture as a matter of routine, against detainees who might not even be terrorists. Such actions should be intolerable by anybody.

Contrast this response to the sick tirade by Rush Limbaugh and we can see who has the moral compass on straight in America today.

As I've said before, we need to put torture on the front page, make it so America cannot ignore the actions taken in our name. Our outrage right now is only skin deep, and America wants nothing more than to be able to ignore/deny the problem. This is unfitting of a light amongst nations, and I refuse to whitewash, deny, suppress, or explain away America's abdication of its duties as a global leader.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Before I even read Rush's column on the matter it did strike me that this 'one year anniversary' commemorating the Abu Gharib incident sounded like something of a celebration. I couldnt help but thinking it was time for my senior Senator to While certainly we have to learn from the experience(which really everyone views as unfortunate and wrong) we dont have to obsess over it. We are all against torture, and admittedly liberals have historically been more vigilant against its use, but also whats important to note is our opposition to it partially influenced our decision to go to war against Saddam's regime. To defend Rush: Kennedy seemed to suggest that Republicans support torture and the way he did so was partisan, divisive, and irresponsible. Kennedy may be hero to some, but his atrocious actions in the past diminish his credibility to others. -JDanielSheehan