Friday, September 22, 2006

Bush wants a vaguer definition of torture, not clearer

Bush keeps harping on about how he needs clarity and more precision in the definition of cruel treatment and torture under the Geneva Convention's common article 3. But as Rosa Brooks points out, he's worried that it's not vague enough.

Exactly. How is it that for quite a long time, we've had no problem following the Geneva Convention, and suddenly it's a pressing need?

For all the perversion of language that Bush has been using ("alternative techniques," "stress positions," "dietary modification"), what we're debating is whether or not we can torture someone, plain and simple.

What rational, civilized country would ever have that debate? What country which holds itself out as some kind of beacon of civilization and progress could actually discuss that?

What Bush wants isn't clarity, though. He wants a free pass--something saying that things that any rational, decent person would call torture isn't torture at all.

Shame on us that we even talk about this.

And for anyone who says that being horrified by this debate and by Bush is anti-American, I say this: Bush is anti-American. Being American, I thought, meant setting a higher standard. It meant belief in the rule of law. It meant being truthful.

Instead, under Bush's watch, we've tortured people at Guantanamo. We've whisked people off to foreign lands to be tortured. We maintain secret prisons around the world. We've argued that anyone captured by us can't even see a lawyer or get a hearing.

If that's not anti-American, I don't know what is.

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