Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tortured Morality

Another piece of the torture puzzle was reported today based on information received by the ACLU under the US Freedom of Information Act. These documents raised new concerns that this Administration under the Defense Department conducted interrogation techniques that even our own FBI found abhorent. Documents suggested: "...detainees held in Iraq often arrived at prisons, including Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail, which was at the centre of allegations of systematic prisoner abuse, bearing "burn marks" on their backs." Additional information related how staff who complained about abuse were threatened, "...had their car keys confiscated and e-mails monitored, as well as being ordered not to leave the base or speak to friends or relatives in the US." According to the FBI email: "...Maj Gen Miller "continued to support interrogation techniques [the FBI] not only advised against, but questioned in terms of effectiveness"." And yet the torture continued.

It is ironic that even as I write, Alberto Gonzales is being considered for the new United States Attorney General. It was he, who as the White House Counsel, advised the President about torture and the Geneva Conventions. As reported in this recent news story, Gonzales wrote his famous memo to Bush which stated: "The war against terrorism is a new kind of war, a new paradigm that renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions," It was this philosophy that enabled this administration to move ahead with controversial and questionable interrogation and detention policies in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

As USA Today reported , Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense then and now, on November 27, 2002, wrote a memo that "...approved several methods which apparently would violate Geneva Convention rules, including:

–Putting detainees in "stress positions," such as standing, for up to four hours.

–Removing prisoners' clothes.

–Intimidating detainees with dogs.

–Interrogating prisoners for 20 hours at a time.

–Forcing prisoners to wear hoods during interrogations and transportation.

–Shaving detainees' heads and beards.

–Using "mild, non-injurious physical contact," such as poking.

Prisoners at Abu Ghraib were interrogated for as long as 20 hours at a time, kept hooded and naked, intimidated with dogs and forcibly shaved. Bush and other administration officials have said other treatment at the Iraqi prison, such as forcing prisoners to perform sex acts, beating them and piling them in a naked human pyramid, were unquestionably illegal.

That policy WAS rescinded in January 15, 2003. However, in April, 2003, Rumsfeld "...issued a new set of approved interrogation methods later that month, disallowing nakedness and requiring approval for four techniques: use of rewards or removal of privileges; verbally attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee; alternating friendly and unfriendly interrogators in a "good cop, bad cop" method; and isolation.

Bush had agreed in February 2002 that al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were not protected by the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war because they violated the laws of war themselves

It is ironic that the same Donald Rumsfeld complained bitterly about the violations of the Geneva Convention that a release of a videotape of the interrogation of American Prisoners of war demonstrated. He stated, "Under the Geneva Convention, it's illegal to do things with prisoners of war that are humiliating to those individuals. And the United

States, of course, avoids showing photographs of prisoners of war. We have thousands of Iraqi prisoners that are in POW camps that we brought along and have erected in country. But we ... avoid showing photographs of them.
" He stated this on NBC's Meet the Press.

O.K. so you know all about this. What does THIS have to do about John Kerry? I mean this IS the John Kerry for President 2008 blog isn't it? Well it is pertinent because one of the biggest campaign efforts against Kerry in 2004 was that he was a "traitor". As Ann Coulter would say. As reported in the Des Moines Register, John Kerry's testimony to Congress about atrocities in that other war, Vietnam, one of the Vietnam vets to speak against Kerry said, "Day said Thursday that he stands by his statement criticizing Kerry. He said he doesn't dispute the fact that some war crimes were committed by U.S. soldiers, but he said they paled in significance to atrocities committed by the Vietnamese communists, such as the massacre of thousands of civilians at Hue in 1968." In addition Day said "I draw a direct comparison to General Benedict Arnold of the Revolutionary War to Lieutenant John Kerry," Day wrote. "Both went off to war, fought, and then turned against their country. General Arnold crossed over to the British for money and position. John Kerry crossed over to the Vietnamese with his assistance to the anti-war movement and his direct liaison with the Vietnamese diplomats in Paris. His reward. Political gain. Senator. United States"

You see this is why the United States of America needed John Kerry as President in 2004. When John Kerry saw torture or atrocities, he didn't try to rationalize, suppress, or deny it. He took the courageous act of instead testifying to Congress about this abhorent behavior. But for that, he was thought to be unpatriotic by the Ann Coulters among us. He wasn't the "good soldier" who just kept his mouth shut and moved on.

Contrast THAT with our current Administration. This Administration seems to be more intent on subverting the Geneva Conventions and finding loopholes that show it doesn't apply, then upholding these ideals that insure minimal ethical treatment of "enemy combatants." When information is released about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, or elsewhere, the response is to deny it, suppress it, and punish those responsible for its release even if it is the FBI itself.

John Kerry, help this tortured nation of ours. Please pull us from the water! America needs John Kerry in 2008.



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