Thursday, August 17, 2006

Torture Update

There have been some significant new developments since I last posted on this topic. Despite the Hamden case, the Bush administration's zeal for torturing people is undiminished. As usual, Marty Lederman is on top of the story.

The issue pertains to proposed amendments to the War Crime Act, which imposes penalties for violating Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Bushites thought they were in the clear by declaring that Common Article 3 never applied to AlQaeda. The Hamden decision said otherwise. A number of theories have been put forward to explain the amendments, including the need to immunize government officials for war crimes that took place prior to Hamden. It is also designed to water down the law, by eliminating the Common Article 3 violations based on "outrages upon personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment." But Lederman thinks the intent is even more sinister than this. In his words:
"The real importance of the amendment has little or nothing to do with the military, or with past conduct, and very little to do with "humiliating and degrading treatment." It is, instead, that this amendment is part of an effort to authorize the CIA to continue to use interrogation techniques that violate Common Article 3's prohibition on "cruel treatment and torture" -- including hypothermia, threats of violence to the detainee and his family, stress positions, "long-time standing," prolonged sleep deprivation, and possibly even waterboarding."
He gets to this position by noting that the proposed amendment restricts the definition of torture to that under the federal torture statute, which is substantially weaker than under Common Article 3. The administration claims that the "enhanced CIA techniques" are not torture under the federal torture statute.

Just remember, Bush is a "Christian" president who "shares our values"...


John Lowell said...

On blog after blog I've been pilloried roundly for seeing in the Bush Regime a nascent National Socialism. But its right here that the resemblance is most apparent. I simply cannot believe that the government of this country is engaged in an effort quite this intense to find a way torture those we consider our enemies. I was happy to see again today yet another Federal Court decision striking at the heart of what can only be called the fuehrerprinzip, this time concerning warrentless wiretapping. But this torture business absolutely naseates. My family came to New England from Bristol in the old country in 1639. We've supplied either England or the United States with soldiers, sailors or airman in every conflict we've experienced since the French and Indian War. Their memory is utterly disgraced by the ill disguised attempts at a coup d'etat by these people. They fought for a Republic not a dictatorship.

shadhu said...

Has the NY Times and the Post published any op-eds on this lately?

John Lowell said...


Bob Herbert of the NY Times has commented eloquently, effectively and regularly on the torture question. Here's a list of his columns, shadu: