Saturday, September 23, 2006

Abandonment, part 2

No Horatius on the bridge to Rome, these three frightened mice--Warner, McCain, and Graham--nor even little boys standing with their fingers in the dike against the rising sea. They hear the voices of the Bushies whining and scurry off because those voices in their ears drown out the cries of all those millions--yes, millions--who throughout history have been tortured, abused, humiliated in the name of some god or noble cause or simply because someone wanted to beat, rape, assault their bodies and minds, break their spirits. After WWII--after two bloody international conflagrations in thirty years--much of the world took a breath and crafted a number of documents that included provisions against degrading treatment, against torture, against affronts to human dignity--provisions the U.S. heartily supported because they adhered to what it believed were its own guiding principles. Many signatories, including, notably, the U.S. have violated those provisions over the years in their dirty wars, but the declarations have held because they have provided a way for abusers of human rights to be brought to justice. What constitutes abuse of human rights, affronts to human dignity, and torture is clear enough to all but the most morally corrupt.

The bill the Bushies and his three pet mice want to push through Congress codifies the Bushies' criminal violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. War Crimes Act, and the Supreme Courts ruling in June, throwing out the bogus Bush tribunals and saying the al-Qaida captives had to be treated according to the law. The NewYork Times produces an elaborate chart--in this article --showing the list of banned practices, as if there were no others or no new ones would be developed. The list is like having a list of banned performance enhancing drugs, along with a statement supporting penalties for their use, and then allowing the athletes to decide what new drugs are "performance enhancers." In fact, the bogus tribunals are back in only slightly modified form, as is denial or habeas corpus and the use of coerced testimony, the denial of a prisoners' right to appeal their treatment in U.S. courts under the Geneva Conventions. Americans are granted immunity from prosecution for previous torture. The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith presents a starkly different view from that of the NYT.

Human Rights Watch has weaseled on this one; Amnesty International has not. The military's judge advocate generals have taken the lead in government, fighting attempts to gut the Geneva Conventions; I hope they hold the line. But it's really gut check time for the rest of the Congress, and when this Congress faces those situations, it buckles. Far better than even one courageous soul should filibuster this thing to death, but courage and Congress don't belong in the same sentence. Oskar should be pounding his tin drum to scrap on this one, but Oskar....No good as ever come of torture.

No comments: