Thursday, November 10, 2005

Salon on torture

A common response I am given when I complain about the rule of law not being applied to detainees is, "why should we by sympathetic to terrorists," to which I reply, "how do you know that every detainee is a terrorist if they have not recieved due process?"Perhaps I'm naive, but abandoning the principles we aim to preserve in the name of protecting them just does not seem right.

A defense attorney who has been fighting the Bush administration on this very subject has written an editorial for Salon that is worth reading.

Since 9/11, I've found myself swept up in defending basic human rights and the rule of law against a relentless onslaught by the Bush administration. We've brought suit on behalf of 500 nameless "John Doe" prisoners held at Guantánamo in defiance of the Geneva Conventions; we've fought the indefinite detention of American citizens; we're challenging the Defense Department and private contractors over the horrendous abuses at Abu Ghraib. We've uncovered terrible stories about cruelty and torture carried out by our country, like that of Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian citizen kidnapped and "rendered" to Syria by American forces, who was kept an underground cell for over 10 months and beaten for weeks on end with a thick cable. I represented three young men from England who were released from Guantánamo when it was finally proved they'd made false confessions -- after being stripped, hooded, isolated, chained to the floor for 12 hours at stifling temperatures and threatened by snarling dogs.
And Ratner, the author of the piece, points out what the Bush administration is really saying by seeking to veto McCain's anti-torture amendment

But this administration is now openly and baldly saying that it claims the right to torture, at its discretion. All the fictions that sustained the war on terror -- that abuses were one-time mistakes by low-level grunts; that the rules about human rights weren't clear; that soldiers didn't understand the parameters when they beat and humiliated and tortured prisoners -- have been replaced by a clear declaration: The United States is going to torture people as it sees fit, to subject them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment wherever and whenever it decides to.

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