Bush’s lawless torture regime

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This New York Times article describes yesterday’s passage, by a 65-to-34 vote, of Bush’s pro-torture bill, the Military Commissions Act. This legislative travesty should appall everyone with the slightest concern for human rights and the rule of law:

The measure would broaden the definition of enemy combatants beyond the traditional definition used in wartime, to include noncitizens living legally in the United States as well as those in foreign countries and anyone determined to be an enemy combatant under criteria defined by the president or secretary of defense.

It would strip at Guantánamo detainees of the habeas right to challenge their detention in court, relying instead on procedures known as combatant status review trials. Those trials have looser rules of evidence than the courts.

It would allow of evidence seized in this country or abroad without a search warrant to be admitted in trials.

Peter Rothberg writes at The Nation that this “compromise” bill goes against the nearly eight centuries of our legal history, in gutting the principle of habeas corpus that has endured since the Magna Carta in 1215. Glenn Greenwald writes about “Bush’s vast new powers of detention and interrogation” and notes that, despite a lack of Democratic unity against the Bush torture bill,

…it is fair to say, given how lopsided this vote was (both in the House and the Senate), that the Republicans are the party of torture, indefinite and unreviewable detention powers, and limitless presidential power, even over U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. By contrast, Democrats have opposed these tyrannical, un-American and truly dangerous measures. [emphasis added]

Bruce Schneier explains the value of human rights laws by discussing the case of an innocent Canadian man who was detained in the US and sent to Syria for torture:

Judicial oversight is a security mechanism. It prevents the police from incarcerating the wrong person. The point of habeas corpus is that the police need to present their evidence in front of a neutral third party, and not indefinitely detain or torture people just because they believe they're guilty. We are all less secure if we water down these security measures.

The Liberal Avenger has commentary that, for its succinctness, cannot be bested:

Neo-Fascism 65 - America 34 The Bush Torture Bill has passed - the Constitution has lost.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

America has changed.

If you have any doubts that we are indeed a changed nation, read “Torture’s Long Shadow” by Vladimir Bukovsky:

If America's leaders want to hunt terrorists while transforming dictatorships into democracies, they must recognize that torture, which includes CID [cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment], has historically been an instrument of oppression -- not an instrument of investigation or of intelligence gathering. No country needs to invent how to "legalize" torture; the problem is rather how to stop it from happening. If it isn't stopped, torture will destroy your nation's important strategy to develop democracy in the Middle East.

Bukovsky spent 12 years in Soviet detention, so he knows what he’s talking about. We ignore voices like his at our own peril. See the analyses from Amnesty International and the ACLU for more details.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on September 29, 2006 1:11 PM.

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