Friday, September 08, 2006

The US no longer even has a sense of shame

We've known for some time that the US has been running a secret global gulag of "black prisons", where high-level detainees in the "war on terror" were disappeared and tortured. But the US has always had enough of a sense of shame to deny or at least try and obfuscate it. Until yesterday. In an address to the nation, US President George Bush admitted the existence of the secret prisons, even as he said that he would be transferring their victims to Guantanamo so that they could be prosecuted. In true fratboy fashion, he told the world of his crime, and effectively sneered "so what? What are you going to do about it?"

And let's be clear, this is a crime we are talking about - a war crime, to be precise. The US War Crimes Act criminalises grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. If the situation were reversed, and it was American soldiers who had been disappeared, kept incommunicado for five years, without even monitoring of their status by the ICRC, then you can bet that the US would be screaming about it. The same applies here. The US cannot demand one set of rules for its own troops, while classifying its enemies as a lesser class of being to whom those rules do not apply. But more importantly, the War Crimes Act also criminalises any violation of the Geneva Conventions' Common Article 3, which bars all "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture" as well as "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment". And what has reportedly been done to those detained in the US's secret prisons certainly falls into the latter, and some of it into the former. Bush even gloats about this, talking about the CIA's "alternative set of procedures". According to the CIA, those procedures include beatings, stress positions, freezing, and waterboarding - the latter being a medieval torture technique in which people are repeatedly drowned until they talk. In the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it also involved threatening his children, aged 7 and 9, to get him to talk.

Bush "justifies" this on the grounds that it is effective. I don't care whether it is effective or not - it is wrong. It is wrong to torture, it is wrong to disappear people, and it is wrong to threaten children and use them as weapons against their parents. That's what Saddam did. It's what the Nazis did. That is the moral company the US government is now keeping.

But what really worries me is the thought that rather than being repulsed by Bush's admission, the American people will welcome it. If that happens, it really will be a death knell for America's claim to be a beacon for freedom and human rights, and a blow against those ideals everywhere in the world.


It's a sad day when locking someone up in Guantanamo Bay is an *improvement*.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 9/08/2006 11:41:00 AM