Friday, September 08, 2006

The Truth About Torture: Part Two

Today’s video clip is from the speech President Bush delivered Wednesday afternoon to selected families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Please play it before reading the rest of this post.

Video Talking Points: 14 terrorists in CIA custody have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay. The men responsible for the 9/11 attacks can face justice once Congress authorizes the military commissions President Bush proposed.

The Truth: This revelation should not surprise the American public. For over a year, we’ve known about the existence of "black sites" --the CIA’s secret prisons-- thanks to two articles written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dana Priest.

On March 3, 2005, The Washington Post published CIA Avoids Scrutiny of Detainee Treatment, which established the existence of "The Salt Pit" --a secret prison located north of Kabul. In the article, it detailed the circumstances behind an alleged incident in which an Afghan detainee froze to death after receiving improper treatment by guards, and how the prison was established as a "host nation" facility so U.S. personnel could escape responsibility for actions taken by Afghan guards against detainees.

Later that year, Priest wrote CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons, a piece that detailed the CIA’s network of secret prisons in Eastern Europe and interrogation tactics that would be considered torture. It also reported the mistreatment of detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, yet there was no public outcry and scant mainstream media coverage of these incidents. The story died as soon as it was published, but Wednesday’s speech validates Priest’s excellent reporting. I invite you to please read them so you can become more familiar with the basis of my arguments against President Bush’s speech in the coming days.

Besides the discussion of secret prisons, the real issue here is President Bush’s decision to leave it up to Congress to approve the military commissions he proposed. You can count on rubber-stamping Congresspersons to give him the thumbs-up, but Democrats must be careful how they word their disapproval. A vote against Bush’s legislation could be viewed by conservatives as weakness in the war on terror, but that shouldn’t be the case. Here’s why:

There should be no argument between both political parties on this issue. Both Democrats and Republicans must reject this legislation on the grounds that it still violates General Article 3 of the Geneva Convention and the guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court. Any elected official who votes in favor of this revised legislation should not be viewed as strong on terror. Their rubber stamp signifies their weakness to stand up against human rights violations and to uphold the rule of law, something conservatives remind us to do on a daily basis.

To be continued...

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