washingtonpost.comVice President for TortureMon Oct 31, 2005 02:4064.140.158.73Vice President for Torture
Wednesday, October 26, 2005; Page A18
VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.
His position is not just some abstract defense of presidential power. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have "disappeared," like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including "waterboarding," or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees. Official investigations have indicated that some aberrant practices by Army personnel in Iraq originated with the CIA. Yet no CIA personnel have been held accountable for this record, and there has never been a public report on the agency's performance.
It's not surprising that Mr. Cheney would be at the forefront of an attempt to ratify and legalize this shameful record. The vice president has been a prime mover behind the Bush administration's decision to violate the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military. These decisions at the top have led to hundreds of documented cases of abuse, torture and homicide in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Cheney's counsel, David S. Addington, was reportedly one of the principal authors of a legal memo justifying the torture of suspects. This summer Mr. Cheney told several Republican senators that President Bush would veto the annual defense spending bill if it contained language prohibiting the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by any U.S. personnel.
The senators ignored Mr. Cheney's threats, and the amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), passed this month by a vote of 90 to 9. So now Mr. Cheney is trying to persuade members of a House-Senate conference committee to adopt language that would not just nullify the McCain amendment but would formally adopt cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as a legal instrument of U.S. policy. The Senate's earlier vote suggests that it will not allow such a betrayal of American values. As for Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.
Cheney's push for pro-torture bill reveals modus operandi of Bush regime's criminality
"Vice president Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans," reads an editorial in the Wednesday, October 26, 2005, Washington Post.
VHeadline.com commentarist Arthur Shaw writes: This "initiative" is unprecedented for not just an elected official but even for an appointed official of the executive branch, like the CIA director or the director of some other ultra secret Gestapo-style police apparatus which proliferate in the USA.
The Washington Post, along with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, is the premier propaganda voices on the print side (as opposed to the broadcast side) of the US capitalist media.
So, in the US, only GOPs and other rightwing freaks can easily dismiss the October 26 editorial in the Washington Post as an insignificant rant by "commies and liberals."
Both the Washington Post and the big imperialist boss Dick Cheney know that the Bush regime, the executive branch of the US government "legally authorized human rights abuses" the moment it was sworn into office after rigging the 2000 US presidential election.
The Office of legal counsel of the US Department of Justice under the Attorney General John Ashcroft (the Heinrich Himmler copycat) prepared a 59-page legal memorandum in 2001-2002 that found and proclaimed that the president of the United States ... as the commander in chief ... can authorize the torture and murder of anyone on earth.
FBI Special Agents observing torture inflicted by US troops and mercenaries on defenseless persons at the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba reported to their FBI superiors in Washington that the torture observed at Guantanamo camp seems to violate US Anti-Torture Act and the Geneva Convention but may be authorized under a recent classified presidential executive order from George W. Bush.
The FBI reports were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU.
The Bush regime has set up a worldwide network of concentration camps at the Guantanamo naval base, in the Middle East, and in some of the former Soviet Republics ... this is one of the reasons US Senator Robert C. Byrd compares Bush to Hitler ... where ten of thousands of people who have been abducted from their home countries are tortured and sometimes murdered by Americans or by US proxies.
The GOPs and other imperialists like to point out that 60 years ago, Robert C. Byrd was a member of the KKK, a sin for which he has atoned many times. But the GOPs still today belong to the GOP and the GOP today is worse than the KKK ever was. In support of this proposition, I confidently cite the records of Bush, Cheney, and the GOPs who support them.
Since torture and murder are common US practices under the Bush classified executive order and the Justice Department memorandum, why do Bush and Cheney want the GOP-controlled legislature -- the so-called US Congress -- to approve laws that authorize torture and other violations of human rights by Americans? By the way, the US legislature under Bush has turned into a cowardly and servile institution that completely betrays the separation of powers.
Senator Robert C. Byrd points out that Bush, like Hitler, retains the "cloak of legality" as he disregards the rule of law and justice and thereby destroys democracy because the rule of law is a fundamental and irrevocable principle of democracy.
Evidently, Cheney believes that Bush's classified presidential executive order authorizing torture and the supporting Justice Department memorandum do not constitute an adequate "cloak of legality" to justify Bush's disregard for the rule of law.
Perhaps some GOPs and some US torturers still doubt the legality of torture and human rights violations under US law, notwithstanding the executive order which Bush and Cheney proudly wave before them.
So, Cheney has decided that legislative endorsement and preemptive congressional approval of US atrocities are necessary to give torture and human rights violations an air of full US legitimacy and legality that most GOPs will accept as immunity from subsequent prosecution in the event that the United States ever returns to democracy.
In general, the Bush regime does everything it can think of to preserve the cloak of legality for the sham rule of law in the United States, as the indictment in the Valerie Plame Affair, where a CIA spy was exposed, shows. Bush, Cheney, and Rove were allowed to walk in flagrant disregard for the rule of law.
"Scooter" Libby plays the patsy so that the three above-named imperialist big shots will get off the hook.
Bush will almost certainly pardon "Scooter" at an opportune moment, thus the special prosecutors will not be able to flip "Scooter" against Bush, Cheney and Rove. The Plame prosecution is only a fraud and a cloak of legality for the Bush dictatorship over the United States.
The US capitalist media by prolonged and intensive coverage of the Plame Affair built up public interest in the case which only deals with a minor breach of the rule of law, the outing of a spy. But, for the most part, the US capitalist media and the US public only yawn when Cheney openly seeks a law that authorizes US personnel to torture any foreigner without due process ("due process" is now a dirty word under Bush) or other constitutional protections, a truly massive and worldwide attack on the rule of law.
But unmentioned in the Washington Post editorial is an apparent rift between Bush and Cheney over the "cloak of legality." Both imperialist bosses, Bush and Cheney, appear to believe the rule of law and democracy are no longer needed in the United States. Bush seems to favor the use of the "cloak of legality" to hide the disappearance of the rule of law and democracy. Cheney, on the other hand, is shameless and wants the GOP dictatorship to "let it all hang out" without political concealment and ideological camouflage.
So, Cheney openly advocates torture.
When you read the October 26 editorial, it is not clear who is supposed to be the US "president" (setting aside, for a moment, the rigged elections in 2000 and 2004). The October 26 editorial talks about only what Cheney wants and only what Cheney is doing, as if Bush doesn't exists or doesn't count if he exists. There is, no doubt good cause for the editorial contempt by the Washington Post for Bush who is on the bottle again ... with a vengeance.
So, it appears, Cheney, unlike Bush and Hitler, wants to ... for some bizarre reason ... throw away the "cloak."
"'Cruel, inhuman and degrading' treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States," the Washington Post said in its October 26 editorial. "The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture."
When one remembers that GOPs populate the Bush regime, one is neither surprised nor shocked by the sentence "this vice president has become an open advocate of torture" that casually appears in an editorial of a capitalist newspaper as prestigious as the Washington Post.
It's like what else would you or anyone else expect from GOPs and bourgeois trash like Bush and Cheney.
Hitler, Bush, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and Cheney believe and advocate "openly" that mere legislation can drag the practice of inhumanity and bestiality ... especially when they are of US origin ... into the sphere of the rule of law because the concept of the rule of law does not imply that a specific law or a practice under the law is either just or unjust. So, even if "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners" sounds a little unjust to the ears of non-GOPs, torture nonetheless has a place within the rule of law, the GOPs argue, because in the sphere of the rule of law, the principle of justice is irrelevant. The rules of law only implies that the law, whatever its merits, shall be upheld by the state.
The ideological and political idiocy of Cheney on the rule of law is identical to the paradoxical argument that passing a law that abolishes law itself is the new rule of law and must be upheld so that the new rule of law requires no law at all be upheld.
It is no reason to choose unjust laws over just ones merely because the rule of law upholds both. All laws contain a degree of injustice, however carefully they have been drafted. If the absence of injustice was an essential characteristic to uphold a law, then no law would ever be upheld. Only an imperialist and bourgeois idiot infers from this proposition that an unjust law is as good as just law, so it doesn't matter which it is. Just laws are superior to unjust laws because the just ones have a much better chance of bringing happiness to the citizens as a whole in the long-term or, sometimes, even in the short term. Conversely, unjust laws are inferior to just laws because the unjust ones have a much better chance of bringing misery to the citizens in both the long and short term.
The quoted passage just above, among other things, says "Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad."
First, the legal language that Cheney seeks doesn't limit the authority to torture and to commit abuses to the CIA, as the editorial itself later attests. The legal language, Cheney is asking for, also includes US military personnel, US mercenaries, and others "acting on behalf of the United States" along with the CIA.
Second, this "holding abroad" language is a trick, because "abroad" includes places under US jurisdiction like the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and US embassies and consulates throughout the world where torture occurs.
Third, the Washington Post is exceedingly tricky when it uses the term "foreign prisoners" in its editorial, US imperialism argues with psychopathic intensity that foreign prisoners are not foreign prisoners, they are only "detainees" or "enemy combatants" who are not protected by either US or international law, therefore, Americans, especially GOPs and other scum of the United States, can torture and murder the "detainees" as much as Americans like, since the rule of law does not reach detainees, whom God herself has forsaken.
Of course, it is not of the slightest concern to the GOPs and other US imperialists and rightwing trash how a certain individual came to be a "foreign prisoner" held abroad in a US concentration camp. US personnel can capriciously pick whomever they want for any reason or for no reason at all and turn him or her into a "foreign prisoner held abroad" before the Americans began to indulge their characteristically sadistic and malicious practices on people whom they take into custody.
But a deeper significance lies in the use of the term "foreign prisoner." The Washington Post tries to soothe the justified fears of US citizens now that the rule of law and democracy have disappeared from the United States, leaving only what Senator Byrd calls a "cloak of legality" which Cheney at least wants to throw away. The soothing words takes the form of this argument "Don't worry, you all, if you're US citizens. You can't become foreign prisoners" even if you 're 'held abroad' by the United States. The proposed new US law promoting torture and human rights abuses will apply only to foreign prisoners."
See? So, don't worry, you're safe.
Cheney seems confident that the GOP minority of the US people are so jaded and depraved that they will give him his law to torture people. Indeed, Cheney seems to believe that the rightwing and pro-imperialist GOP minority of the US people will even give him, if he ask for it, a law that authorizes the mass extermination of millions of human beings. And Cheney may ask for it. Moreover, the GOP minority will give Cheney the genocide law with same blase attitude and nonchalance with which it has welcomed the idea of Cheney's international torture bill.
The Washington Post is one of the few publications in the decadent US capitalist media that believes that a proposed US law, sponsored no less by the so-called vice president, calling for and authorizing torture of citizens of other countries by Americans is even newsworthy and deserves comment in the mainstream of the jaded US bourgeois media. But if anyone blows the cover of a single US
- Vice President for Torture Part 2 washingtonpost.com, Mon Oct 31 02:52
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