Monday, November 07, 2005

A Lose-Lose Proposition

Republicans are in a froth over the Cheney-induced torture scandal. And the salient aspect of it is that it seems to be mostly Republicans, finally, arguing against prisoner abuse in Bush's War on Terah. Feckless Democrats, as usual, are nowhere to be seen or heard. Just what the hell are they doing while this imbroglio roils Washington?

Since WaPo broke the story of secret CIA prison camps scattered hither and yon, the argument surrounding the McCain amendment to defense spending bill that seeks to ban cruel treatment of any prisoner held by US forces has been raging. And it has been notably doing so amongst Republican senators. But before the story broke, the Senate originally passed the bill with the amendment by 90-9 even as the White House threatened Bush's only veto. Cheney then stepped up to argue for an exemption to the amendment that would allow the CIA to, apparently, abuse prisoners anyway. Of course, neither the White House nor its policy supporters would say anything such thing but would, rather, choose to say that such an amendment would tie the president's hands in the prosecution of his war.

Now that the existence of secret CIA prisons is public knowledge, Cheney is running around Capitol Hill making "unusual personal appeals" to various members of Congress. Just what a personal appeal from Dick Cheney sounds like would be, I'm guessing, rather chilling. Perhaps a hint of a trip to the The Salt Pit might be the order of the day should senators continue to find themselves reticent about signing onto officially sanctioned prisoner abuse. But the story made clear his reason for the argument: the CIA has been and is right now abusing prisoners and there is a well established and rather elaborate network of extra-judicial treatment facilities around the globe. All Cheney is asking for, really, is an exemption for a pre-existing condition.

But McCain is standing firm and is saying that he will press this issue "as far as necessary." Good for McCain. He's obviously not buying the load that a simpleton like Orrin Hatch will. Hatch doesn't seem to care what happens as long as "our citizens in the United States of America are protected." Hatch fails to recall that just one such US citizen is penned up in Gitmo right now; no charges, no trial, no end in sight. At least, as far as annyone knows. McCain is clearly concerned about US image abroad, though it remains unlikely that passing a few notes among senators is going to convince the world that the US will suddenly start taking the human rights of prisoners seriously, especially with Bush -- oops -- Cheney at the helm.

Pat Roberts (R-Ks), the man in charge of the Senate Whitewash investigation of Iraqi WMD intelligence, voted against the amendment but says it doesn't mean he favours torture. Roberts seems unable to recognise that his vote doesn't mean that he disfavours it, either. But this crank really steps in it when he says,
As long as you're following the Constitution and there's no torture and no inhumane treatment, I see nothing wrong with saying here is the worst of the worst.
What can you say to such an oblivious man? Well, I can think of one thing: Why the fuck do you need an exemption to an anti-torture amendment then, you asspiece? Does Roberts really believe that a network of secret CIA prisons has been set up around the world in order not to torture and abuse prisoners? Is this man aware of nothing that has gone on to date? I have a violent urge to just shake the shit out of this idiot.

Really, this isn't even about whether or not such abuse occurs. Torture has been a hallmark of military history, even when it was officially banned. But arguing that the US government should have an official policy that allows it is simply absurd and sends a message to the world that basically says, fuck you. We're going to do what we want, when and where we want and, on top of it, we will broadcast that fact to you. Chumps.

Of course, the Bush administration has been more or less doing that since 9/11, so maybe this isn't all that shocking or surprising to the rest of the world, which has been on the shit end of Bush's very shitty stick for sometime now. Have we ever seen a US president so roundly reviled? The man can't go anywhere without starting riots. How is arguing for prisoner abuse going to help anything?

Even hard-ass Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is stumped by White House intransigence on this issue:
I think the administration is making a terrible mistake in opposing John McCain's amendment on detainees and torture. Why in the world they're doing that, I don't know.
Chuck and I are both baffled because I said pretty much the same thing awhile back:
So why is the White House assuming the publicly assinine position of "wanting" to retain an ability to officially condone the abuse and torture of detainees? I can't imagine. Apart from displaying abject moral turpitude, it is a political dead-ender. Why even bother?
Again and for the life of me, I simply cannot believe this is even a discussion in the United States in the 21st century.


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