Thursday, September 28, 2006

Shameful Day: Senate passes immoral bill on torture & detainees

By Diane Silver

I'll let other people make the arguments about how the bill the Senate just passed endangers our military and all Americans.

I'll let others discuss the obscene politics of this vote, and the spineless capitulation of some Democrats.

Writing from the Heartland of Kansas, I want to talk about the heart of the matter: Morality.

Senate approval sends this horrifying bill back to the House, which has already passed its own version. The House is expected to rubber stamp the Senate version and send it to President George W. Bush, possibily as soon as tomorrow. Bush, of course, will be thrilled to sign it.

To paraphrase Dan Froomkin's marvelous column in The Washington Post: How far are we willing to stray, not only from our historic and Constitutional values, but from our religious and moral values as well?

As Froomkin so clearly puts it, this legislation:
...would ban torture, but let Bush define it; would allow the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant; would suspend the Great Writ of habeas corpus; would immunize retroactively those who may have engaged in torture. And that's just for starters.
Oh yes, survival is important. No, I do not believe that the Constitution nor any religious text is a suicide pact as some conservative commentators have claimed someone like me would argue. We have to do everything we can to defend ourselves. We have to battle terrorists with bullets and bombs and ideas.

But what are we doing to our souls?

Is there not a limit to our fear?

What does our country stand for now?

How do you turn the Golden Rule into a get-out-of-jail-free pass for our nation to wink and nod and look the other way as Bush defines interrogation as torture and ignores habeas corpus?

Do you all know what habeas corpus means? The good volunteers of Wikipedia write:
A writ of habeas corpus is a court order addressed to a prison official (or other custodian) ordering that a detainee be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he or she should be released from custody.
In other words, without habeas corpus -- which dies for anyone Bush says is a terrorist -- the United States can toss you (and it could be you) into the deepest, darkest, most secret prison and throw away the key. I heard a sound clip on the news today where a Republican Congressman was going on about how this bill gives detainees tons and tons of legal rights.

That is utter and complete garbage.

Bush's people don't have to tell the world they've got you. How do you get any legal rights if no one knows you're imprisoned? And oh yes, don't tell me this won't happen. We already did it at Guantanamo Bay.

Shame, shame on Congress. Shame, shame on the news media for doing such a lousy job of covering this (see Froomkin again) that few people understand the stakes. AND SHAME SHAME on those people who do understand, but have done nothing.

Apologies to Austin Cline for borrowing his incredible poster. I'm a tad more spiritual and religious than he is, but his posters are amazing. The text says:
It's not brutality when Bush does it. America is a Christian Nation. America does not "torture," but Bush doesn't want his methods scrutinized by others. Bush sends people to secret prisons for "alternative" interrogation. Bush wants to change the law to protect his people from war crime trials. There are no war crimes being committed in our name. Nothing to see here. TRUST US.

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