Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys gave us that Statue of umm, Torture, to put in New York Harbor

I'm listening to Mike Malloy on the radio, getting ready to watch The Daily Show on my trusty DVR (i.e., device similar to a TiVo-brand DVR).

You know that big symbol in New York Harbor that really stands for America? No, I don't mean the World Trade Center towers. I don't mean the Empire State Building, either. It's a big statue that the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys gave us because they, too, hate freedom. That's why the Statue of Torture says:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
And I will put them on a crate and attach electrodes to their genitals. (I don't remember exactly what the actual pose was in the famous photo, but it doesn't matter: the reality will inevitably get twisted in the retelling, just like in a game of "telephone.")

Consider what Andrew Sullivan (again, my endorsement of him does not imply vice-versa) said on the Real Time with Bill Maher show. "The real scandal is that the people who sanctioned this abuse are in the White House. ... How does anybody not see that [President Bush is] a phenomenal hypocrite on this [issue of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" of "terror suspects" (Come on, people! Are you going to try to tell me that U.S. News, always to the right of Time or Newsweek, is part of the "liberal media bias"?) or to countries known to torture prisoners]?" The United States government is "rendering" prisoners to countries that WE claim torture political prisoners. (The United States has turned over prisoners to countries including Uzbekistan, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, all of which the U.S. State Department lists as countries that torture prisoners, with only an "assurance" that these particular individuals will not be tortured.)

The United States, with the signature of Acting Attorney General Larry Thompson on the orders, rendered a Canadian citizen to Syria, based on the erroneous belief that he was linked to al Qaeda, in spite of the fact that we know full well that Syria uses torture.

The Bush Administration has turned back attempts to pass laws specifically prohibiting the CIA from employing torture. Torture is already illegal in the United States (but neither Abu Ghraib nor Guantánamo Bay is in the United States), and it is illegal for the United States to turn someone over to another country to be tortured, but the Bush Administration claims that if the other country double-extra pinkie swears it won't torture this prisoner, then it's okay for us to just trust them, because "Torture is bad, m'kay?" (Look on the page for "drugsbad.wav")

The United States is engaging in torture. So far, we've only had admissions from the lowest ranks, but the actions of the Administration clearly provide at least an unsubtle "wink wink" to those who would torture prisoners — unless they get caught. The President won't even say straight out on television, "The United States condemns torture under all circumstances, and unequivocally renounces its direct or indirect use," because that would be taking "options" off the table. The legal opinion the President received states that physical pain is only "torture" if it is "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." The infamous "Bybee Torture Memo" further limits the scope of mental pain and suffering that can be considered torture. It's only torture if you use "threats of imminent death; threats of infliction of [physical torture]; infliction of [physical torture] as a means of psychological torture; use of drugs or other procedures designed to deeply disrupt the senses [like sleep deprivation?] or fundamentally alter an individual's personality, or threatening to do any of these things to [somebody else]."

The people of the United States re-elected George W. Bush as President (in the same sense that Gerald Ford tried for re-election in 1976), even though substantive information about our complicity in torture was already available well before the election. Thus, the United States electorate has collectively — by a razor-thin margin — endorsed torture.

Under what circumstances is it OK for a foreign country to torture Americans? Is it OK for Syria to torture an American who poses a threat to the stability of the Syrian government? I'm not asking if "they" would ever do such a thing; I'm asking if you, my reader, think it's OK that "they" have done and will probably continue to do such things, possibly even including to Americans. If your answer was no, but you say yes to even one single case of torture by or on behalf of the United States, how do you justify that distinction? Is it OK for America to use torture because we as a people voted to do so? After all, it's just democracy in action, and it's just those activist judges and limousine liberals who want to obstruct the Bush Administration's authority to conduct the War on Terror using whatever means "they" we want.

(Actually, I think I'm going to go to bed and watch Daily Show tomorrow. After all, I want to be well-rested for the sneak preview of Lords of Dogtown. Does this blog qualify me as a "member of the reviewing press"? I do plan to write a review here, after all.)