Friday, February 15, 2008

Torture is on the table. Why, again, is impeachment not?

OK, so this is what pisses me off.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey (thanks for that one, Schumer and Feinstein) says that waterboarding would be torture if it were done to him. And Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell says that waterboarding (you remember, something that the Attorney General would say is torture if done to him) would require the president’s consent and legal approval from the attorney general. Oh yeah, CIA Director Michael Hayden said that waterboarding (again, something that the Attorney General not only would say is torture if done to him, but also something that both he and the president would have to personally sign off on in order for the CIA to engage in such acts) was actually done to three detainees while in US captivity.

By the way, all of those statements were made before a Senate committee and presumably none of the three individuals were lying when they made those statements.

But wait, there’s still more here.

The United States Senate voted to ban waterboarding, even though it should be pointed out that republican presidential candidate John McCain voted for more waterboarding, therefore supporting something that the Attorney General said would be torture if done to him.. And we all know that torture is something that is explicitly illegal, even though one of our own “radically extremist activist” Supreme Court Justices thinks that torture is justified at times.

And to top it all off, Mister Bush will veto a bill that calls waterboarding (something that the Attorney General said would be illegal if done to him) illegal. So, not only is the current president breaking the law by ordering torture in the first place, but wants to use the evidence obtained through illegal torture in a death penalty case against detainees. As for that evidence obtained through illegal torture? Well, the little problem is that the CIA destroyed the tapes of the torture and confessions because, well, they knew it was illegal and they wanted to protect the agents who conducted the torture.

I’ll also take this time to point out once again that the republican frontrunner for the Presidential nomination, John McCain, also voted to support torture.

Of all of the things that this administration and its enablers have done that are impeachable events (Downing Street Minutes, FISA, US Attorney firings, caging, election stealing, a dereliction of duty (Katrina, 9/11, “who would have thought that....”, etc.) or even bordering on treasonous (CIA leak investigation, manufactured evidence on Iraq and Iran), torture hits the hardest.

It cuts to the core - right through the heart of what makes a democracy a, well, democracy. It is the difference between civility and barbarianism. It is the line that should never be crossed. It shows an utter disgust and contempt for humanity. It puts our troops at risk. Enemy fighters will think twice before surrendering due to the choice of death or torture. And it puts our soldiers at risk for being tortured if captured since our government does it.

Have I mentioned that not only does our current president support torture, but so does John McCain, the presumptive republican nominee for President?

If I was told 8 years ago that the legitimacy of torture would become part of the discourse in this country, I would have laughed out loud. But now, not only is the legitimacy of torture part of the discourse in this country, it is also something that the president ordered, the CIA engaged in, and the United States Senate has actually taken the time to debate and vote on.

Anyone who can justify torture has no business participating in a civil society. Yet we have people in the highest levels of government - in Congress, on the Supreme Court and in the White House - who not only justify torture, but have taken great pains and have gone to great lengths to blur the lines just enough (how, I still don’t know), authorize torture, engage in torture, destroy evidence of and evidence obtained by torture, cover up the destruction of evidence, seek a death penalty based at least in part on this evidence, and declare it “legal” because it isn’t explicitly and specifically denoted as “illegal” (or veto a law that would call it illegal, which is like making a law that circles have to be round).

All of this has happened, is happening and is continuing to happen as we find out more of the sordid details. It is indicative of and an exhibit of the worst traits in humans. It is despicable, inexcusable, subhuman.

It is illegal.

Tell me again why impeachment is off the table and what message allowing this to go unpunished sends to Americans, to the world community and to the most basic level of human decency?

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