Saturday, September 23rd, 2006


The United States has now become a nation that sanctions the use of torture. This is a violation of every founding and continuing legal principle and precedent of this country, up until now. The United States has been a shining light among nations because of our public stands against torture, and for human rights. Despite the shadow boxing in the Senate, the President still gets to decide who gets tortured, how and when. And torturers are exempt from legal responsibilty for their crimes. Further, people who call themselves Christians, have been leading the pro torture lobby.


If these (Christian) groups took an agressive moral stance against torture, the Bush Administration might be given pause. The Traditional Values Coalition has chosen to do the opposite, throwing its weight behind torture, urging Christians to pressure their legislators to support torture.

In fact,

the Traditional Values Coalition is pushing the not-so-veiled argument that torture is the Christian way, euphemistically explaining that our rules for interrogation must “catch-up” with the new forms of war (that “the lines must be redrawn”), and encouraging “all of our supporters and affiliated churches to contact their elected representatives and let them know we support President Bush’s efforts to update our methods of interrogating terrorist detainees.”

Torture IS a traditional value. But it is NOT a traditional value in the United States. Torture is a tool of tyrants that was opposed in the founding principles of this country. Torture is certainly NOT a traditional value among those who actually try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Following the teachings of Christ is not easy to do, but if one calls oneself a Christian, one has a moral obligation to try. And ANY reading of the teachings of Christ makes it clear that torture is morally unacceptable.

There was no compromise in the Senate. McCain, Graham, and Warner cut and run. The majority of Americans do not support the use of torture, even of suspected terrorists, according to a New York Times/CBS poll (PDF). The three Senators surrendered.

The Republican “rebels” have surrendered. What’s being described as a “compromise” on Bush’s junta-like proposal to try terrorism suspects is nothing but face-saving on the part of John McCain and the two other Republicans who, briefly, looked as if they might keep the administration and Congress from enacting a measure legalizing torture, gulags and kangaroo trials where basic rules of evidence don’t apply. Thursday evening every major paper carried the story under banner headlines of a deal being struck. But the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times all stuttered and fawned through their first six, seven, eight paragraphs, giving no analytical substance to the report but taking dictation from McCain and Stephen Hadley, the administration’s national security adviser: there is a deal; it just isn’t clear what the deal entails. Not only are terrorism suspects being denied the evidence against them. But now Americans are being denied the information that makes up their laws.

This is one reason I read blogs. It is impossible to get real news and accurate information from the traditional media. All the traditional news media have fallen into line, calling the Senate result a compromise. They also steadfastly avoid the word torture in describing what the President asked for, and the result of the compromise. The media continue to use euphemisms in the manner of the White House Talking Points, echoed by other right wing lobbies such as the Traditional Values Coalition, with their talk of efforts to update our methods of interrogating terrorist detainees. The Senate agreement, and the media’s language, allow the White House and the rubber stamp Republican Congress to pretend this agreement is something other than what it is. This agreement is a disgrace to our country. It is permission for the President to torture people, imprison people without charge in prison camps, and to convene kangaroo courts. We have stepped down from the moral high ground of support for human rights, and joined the thugs and despots.

Americans know better and can do better. All who call ourselves patriots must fight for our true traditional values, our founding principles. We, all peoples, are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. If you want ideas for what you can do, go to Act Blue.

Check out Bob Geiger’s Saturday Cartoons.

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