Thursday, June 19, 2008

Torture is a war crime. Or an occasionaly useful tool.

Depends on who you ask.

The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees." He called the abuse "systemic and illegal." And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in the New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation.

The new report, he writes, "tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual's lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

"The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full-scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted --both on America's institutions and our nation's founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

"In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. . . .

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

If you check the results of recent Pew Research polling, though ...

More than four in ten Americans (43%) say that the use of torture can be justified to gain key information sometimes (31%) or often (12%), according to a 2007 Pew Research survey. However, a 54%-majority say torture is never (29%) or rarely (25%) justified. The number of Americans saying the use of torture against suspected terrorists is at least sometimes justified has been fairly stable since 2004, though the percentage saying torture can often be justified has dipped from 18% in October 2006. There have been consistent demographic and political differences in views about whether torture of suspected terrorists is ever justified. For instance, more African Americans than whites say the torture of suspected terrorists is never justified (37% vs. 28%). Older Americans also are more likely to rule out the use of torture than are younger people: 36% of those ages 65 and older say torture of suspected terrorists is never justified, compared with 25% of those ages 18-29.

So how did we get to this point -- where far too many Americans still believe bullshit that has been proven false? Such as Saddam was responsible for 9/11, or that climate change is something Al Gore invented along with the Internet to make millions?

Can all of this ignorance be blamed on Fox News?

I don't think so.

At some point the morans are going to have to accept responsibility for the outcomes of their blind stupidity. That point ideally needs to be reached by them before the United States is attacked again by religious fundamentalists bent on retribution for a century of petroleum-driven political manipulation, or before global wars are instigated over water instead of oil.

Because by that time it'll be too late for them to make amends. It may be too late already.

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