That's the only conclusion that anyone can come to reading the news that the White House and a three GOP Senators have reached an agreement on the treatment of detainees. The President is delighted:
I had a single test for the pending legislation, and that's this: Would the CIA operators tell me whether they could go forward with the program, that is a program to question detainees to be able to get information to protect the American people. I'm pleased to say that this agreement preserves the most single -- most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks, and that is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets.
Just laying on the BS, isn't he? You'd almost believe that it used to be illegal to question detainees. What he really means is that the CIA will be allowed to torture suspects.
Glenn Greenwald writes at Salon:
Despite all the legalistic obscurities surrounding the torture "compromise" between President Bush and Republican senators there is one critical fact of overarching significance that is now crystal clear. This entire controversy arose because the U.S. has been using "interrogation techniques" -- such as induced hypothermia, "long standing," threats directed at detainees' families and waterboarding -- that are widely considered to be torture, and therefore in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The only thing the president wanted was to ensure that the CIA could continue to use these techniques, and that, unquestionably, is precisely the outcome of this "compromise."
If anything, these torture techniques will enjoy greater legal protection under the "compromise" legislation reached by the leaders of America's ruling party because a) authorization of these interrogation techniques will now be grounded in a statutory scheme duly enacted by Congress (rather than in the shadowy, secretive "interpretations" of the Geneva Conventions promulgated by the executive branch) and b) judicial review of any type (i.e., the ability to have courts adjudicate the compatibility of these practices with the mandates of the Conventions) will be barred entirely.
I'm not so sure of the constitutionality of point b -- barring oversight from the judicial branch -- but when has the Bush administration and the republicans ever worried about that? I've said it before; the Constitution was written with a pre-9/11 mindset. So screw it.
And why do I say McCain has no principles? First, he flat out lied about what the deal means. "We got what we wanted, and that is the preservation of the Geneva Conventions," McCain told NBC's Today Show, "There will be no more torture. There will be no more mistreatment of prisoners that would violate standards of conduct we would expect of people who work for the United States of America."
Second, McCain was held at the infamous Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war and was tortured himself. Having experienced torture firsthand, he still thinks that this is something americans should do. Lying and saying they won't torture doesn't change a damned thing.
And make no mistake, americans will be doing this. Worse, since the US is a democracy (although that distinction is becoming mostly nominal), we are all responsible for what our government does and, when the government commits crimes, we are all guilty.
Wednesday, I wrote that those who support torture are cowards. It was one of the most popular posts I've ever written and I didn't get a lot of people disagreeing with me. The vast majority of emails and comments have been positive.
It turns out that the citizenry is way out in front of their 'leadership' on this issue. In another Salon article, Glenn Greenwald wrote yesterday:
If you ask Americans whether the use of torture is ever justifiable, a clear majority will say that it is not. In the newly released New York Times/CBS poll (PDF), for instance, 56 percent said torture is never justifiable, even "to get information from a suspected terrorist" (question No. 54). Even more striking, 63 percent say that "when it comes to the treatment of prisoners of war," the U.S. "should follow the international agreements that it and other countries have agreed to," rather than "do what it thinks is right, even if other countries disagree" (question No. 67).
56% is way too low for me, but I'll take a majority. Clearly, We the People don't want this. That same People the Constitution -- the document from which all our law comes -- speaks for.
I'll say it again, you cannot give up freedom to protect it. You can't trust people like Sen. John McCain, who looked into an NBC camera this morning and lied directly to America, to give those rights back when it's 'safe' for you to have them again. Despite what we're told, we are not facing the greatest threat to the US we've ever faced.
That would've been the Soviet Union. The USSR had enough nukes to destroy us and the rest of the world. What rights did we give up in support of the cold war? What freedoms was it necessary for us to forfeit in order to keep russian agents from stealing them?
Not that it wasn't tried. And then, as now, the greatest threat to our freedom wasn't from outside forces, but from within. And then, as now, that threat came from the fearmongering right. Sen. Joe McCarthy, a grasping, soulless opportunist and Wisconsin's shame, threatened to dismantle the first amendment and drag the country down in a witch hunt.
It wasn't the government that finally brought McCarthy down -- it was the people and the press. You can only frighten people for so long.
This isn't a done deal, people. Most people oppose this. Write letters to the editor, write and call your Senators and Representatives. And not just those you think may be for this or on the fence. Anti-torture elected officials need to be able to prove that the people are behind them. They need to be able to say, "Look, I've got a stack of letters the size of my garage back at the office and my phone won't stop ringing."
And, even if it goes through, it's not done. There's no law government can write that can't be undone.
It's your country, not theirs. Don't let them make you a criminal.
Technorati tags: politics; crime; torture; Bush; terrorism; John McCain tells lies and bullshit propaganda on NBC