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Bush vetoes anti-torture bill

March 10, 2008

gitmogitterSaturday 08. march, president George Bush had the chance to erase a major black mark against the United States. Instead, he strengthened his reputation as a brutal, ruthless commander in chief who will not listen to the international opinion. Bush has made it quite clear that he will give his agents in the war for terror access to every tool in the box, including torture.

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President Bush‘s veto Saturday of a bill that would have banned the CIA from using torture techniques like waterboarding, the denial of food, water and medical treatment and beating, burning or physically hurting prisoners in other ways has been rightfully criticized by everyone from human rights advocates and Senators to retired generals and even a former National Security Adviso. The bill would have made CIA agents subject to the restrictions regarding interrogation techniques spelled out in the Army Field Manual.

Both Democrats and human rights advocates believe that the CIA should be restricted to the techniques approved in the Army Field Manual and banned from torture-like interrogation methods, and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. Not only because torture is cruel, evil and unnecessary, but also because fighting terror with torture is inefficient, counterproductive, and, to be honest, incredibly stupid.

What you think you want

First of all, torture is no foolproof way of making the victim give you the answers you want. Quite contrary, the desperate victim will probably give you the answers she thinks you want to hear, whether they are true or not.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Deb Reichmann of the Associated Press he had heard nothing to suggest that the CIA had obtained important information through the use of torture.

– On the other hand, I do know that coercive interrogations can lead detainees to provide false information in order to make the interrogation stop, Rockefeller said.

Many human rights activists are also concerned that the use of torture will undermine U.S. human rights efforts overseas and could place Americans at greater risk of being tortured if they are captured abroad.

– The authorization and use of torture by the United States has endangered our troops and has had a devastating impact on U.S. moral authority and standing in the world, Human Rights First’s Washington Director Elisa Massimino wrote in a press release.

– The legislation which the President vetoed today would have reversed these bad faith interpretations of the law by enumerating approaches to interrogation that are proven, effective, humane, and lawful, Massimino concluded.

With a little help from her friends

Luckily, losing a battle does not necessarily mean losing the war. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of many Democrats determined push through a ban on torture, whatever the president might think of it.

– We will begin to reassert that moral authority by attempting to override the president’s veto next week, she told Reichmann.

To put an end to American torture, Pelosi needs all the help she can get, as it takes a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. If you are an American citizen, write your Representative now, and make sure she is on the right side in the war on torture.

Illustration: Carlos Latuff / Wikimedia Commons

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