Sunday, March 9, 2008

George W. Bush Protects Torture Technique

Last week an advisor to Barack Obama resigned because she referred to Hillary Clinton as a "monster" during an interview with a Scottish publication.

One should pause, and hesitate again, before damning another human being with such an incendiary term, defined by Webster's Unabridged as "a person who excites horror by wickedness, cruelty, etc." Obama's advisor was correct to resign - Hillary Clinton has done nothing to deserve such a label.

George W. Bush, on the other hand, comes close to deserving the label after his veto yesterday of a bill that would have banned the torture technique of "waterboarding" and other techniques not allowed in the Army field manual on interrogation (which prohibits physical force against prisoners). To use the massive power of the office of the President of the United States to advocate (over the objection of the democratically-elected legislature, no less) what is widely regarded as cruel, inhumane and beyond the bounds of decency is, by definition, nothing short of monstrous.

Understand that most experts - including the military and law enforcement agencies like the FBI - believe the technique is unnecessary and even counterproductive. Bush's own commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Patraeus, has argued that the use of such techniques creates risks for any future American prisoners of war.

So why does he persist? In a word - Power. Power of the presidency vis-a-vis Congress and anybody else who crosses his sanctimonious good vs. evil worldview.

And the all-too-shameful fact is the veto will not be overridden. (The bill passed 221-199 in the House and 51-45 in the Senate, short of the two-thirds needed to override the veto.) It is most unfortunate that there are enough in Congress - mostly Republicans, it happens - who lack the spine and courage to stand up against Bush's fearmongering. Who are these people? Have they no shame?

This is why people around the world justifiably hate George W. Bush's America.