Saturday, March 8, 2008

America's Defining Moment: the Torture Bill

Well America, it has come down to this. A bill that would restrict the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual, and would bar the CIA from using water boarding, sensory deprivation or other coercive methods to break a prisoner who refuses to answer questions, is under the threat of a veto by President Bush. His reasons? Well, forgive us for thinking we've heard this all before:

Bush has said the bill would harm the government's ability to prevent future attacks... "The bill would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror, the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives," deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto said Friday.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am sick to death of this claptrap. Other presidents waged wars, real wars, without having to violate the Geneva convention to do it, and yes, some of those presidents dealt with terrorists as well. How is it that they all could do the job without stooping to such measures, but Bush apparently cannot? How is it that Bush cannot seem to take any action against terrorists without stomping on our rights in the process?

It's simple really. It all goes back to the faith-based nature of this administration. See, when you already know the answer, you don't need intelligence. And if you know you are in the right, you don't have to care about your image in the rest of the world. All you need to do is force the people you know are guilty to admit what you know they were going to do, and all will be well. If this sounds like something out of 1984, you are getting it.

What made America great in the past was doubt. We were not like the Taliban, not so sure we were right. We entered military engagements reluctantly, in defense, and always with the understanding that it was necessary to conduct ourselves in a way that made the rest of the world glad to have us there, because you never know when we might be on the other side of the aisle.

Religious zealots here at home who attempt to force their narrow social agenda on everyone else suffer from the same problem. It never occurs to them that someone else might use the EXACT SAME methods to force a different view on THEM. Just like President Bush and his cronies can't seem to understand that by condoning torture, we not only open ourselves up to it, we give up our righteous position in the world, and expose ourselves as merely one more regime who respects nothing but the size of others' guns, and we just happen to have the biggest on the block.

Perhaps President Bush could use a conversation with John McCain on the issue. He understands. In the meantime, Ted Kennedy needs to heed his own word:

"President Bush's veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency," Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a statement Friday. "Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world."

I also hold you and the rest of congress to the same standard Mr. Kennedy. If you pantywaist Democrats and thinking Republicans (if there are any left) don't stand up to this madness and override Bush's veto, you are every bit as guilty as he is of bringing America down.

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