Bush Administration Finds It Has No Credibility
|December 10, 2005||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Bush Administration Finds It Has No Credibility
U.S. Torture Scandals Continue to Expand
Here are excerpts from an editorial that originally appeared in the New York Times (U.S.) along with remarks from elsewhere. It was a sad enough measure of how badly the Bush administration has damaged its moral standing that the secretary of state had to deny that the president condones torture before she could even visit some of the most reliable American allies in Europe. It was even worse that she had a hard time sounding credible when she did it.
Of course, it would have helped if Condoleezza Rice was actually in a position to convince the world that the United States has not, does not and will not torture prisoners. But there’s just too much evidence that this has happened at the hands of American interrogators or their proxies in other countries. And Vice President Dick Cheney is still lobbying to legalize torture at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons, and to block a law that would reimpose on military prisons the decades-old standard of decent treatment that Mr. Bush scrapped after 9/11.
Pesky facts keep getting in the way of Ms. Rice’s message. Yesterday, the new German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that Ms. Rice had acknowledged privately that the United States should not have abducted a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, who says he was sent to Afghanistan and mistreated for five months before the Americans realized that they had the wrong man and let him go.
Mr. Masri tried to appear at a press conference in Washington yesterday to discuss a lawsuit filed in Virginia on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, a suit alleging wrongful imprisonment and torture — but the embarrassed United States government is now refusing to allow him into the country.
The United States is reported to have violated international law by sending suspects to places where it knows they will be tortured. Recently, European governments expressed outrage at reports that some detainees were held at secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe.
Ms. Rice refused to comment on these reports. But before leaving Washington on Monday, she read a statement implying that if there were any secret prisons out there, the host countries knew about them. In other words she rather bluntly warned that European countries who want American intelligence had better not betray any secrets.
The Progress Report observes — We already know that Poland and Romania have CIA torture camps. And the Czech Republic claims to have been approached by U.S. officials to create another secret torture center — and refused.
Ms. Rice said Monday that rendition had been used to lock up some really dangerous bad guys, like Carlos the Jackal and Ramzi Yousef, who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. But both men were charged in courts, put on trial, convicted and sentenced. That’s what most American think when they hear talk about “bringing the terrorists to justice” – not predawn abductions, blindfolded prisoners on plane rides and years of torture in distant lands without any public reckoning.
And meanwhile, on December 7 Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot warned the US government that if it continued to ‘hide’ over reports of secret prisons in eastern Europe, Dutch contributions to US-led military missions could be affected, the ANP news agency reported.
‘The US should stop hiding. It will all come out sooner or later,’ Bot told the Dutch parliament, according to ANP.
The Bush administration this week publicly attempted to narrow the definition of torture and tried to limit the responsibility of individuals working for the U.S. government to stop torture from taking place. But U.S. military leaders and many members of Congress from both parties are refusing to stand aside while fundamental rights are eroded.
Behind-the-scenes arguments came dramatically into public view recently when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld argued that military personnel have no obligation to intervene when they personally witness torture taking place by officials of other, sovereign governments. Standing next to Rumsfeld at a press conference last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, responded: “It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it.
But the secretary of defense didnt agree: I dont think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. In a rare direct, public confrontation, the chairman of the joint chiefs stood his ground: “If they [U.S. soldiers] are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it,” Pace told the secretary of defense.
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