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Human Rights Law: Never In Our Names
Bush's Willing Torturers
The newly-published Bush administration memos show a chilling, Orwellian abuse of language to justify torture
Dennis Blair, President Obama's director of national intelligence, minimized the contents of the most recent set of torture memos to be released saying
Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing.Cole has a very different perspective.
The four Justice Department memos, spanning 124 pages of dense legal analysis and cold clinical descriptions of sustained, systematic abuse of human beings, do precisely what Orwell foretold: twist the English language in order to approve the unthinkable.Indeed what other conclusion is on to make when descriptions of physical abuse are presented in graphic form?
The memos describe various forms of mistreatment including slamming a prisoner's head against the wall, sleep deprivation, face slapping, and waterboarding. These actions are prohibited under the provisions of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty the US signed and ratified into law in 1988. Under that treaty the attorneys job in this instance should have been to refute the actions described. Instead they chose to twist the interpretation so as to allow every action the administration wished to include.
The attorneys writing the memos used the actions of U.S. military trainers to justify the use of abusive interrogation methods. But to say the application of the same methods to a willing participant is far different from doing so to a prisoner of war.
Even worse is the argument put forth in the fourth memo, signed by Stephen Bradbury, which argues
these tactics are not even "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" - a much lower threshold than torture.
Legal training did not suffice to allow either proper or reasonable interpretation of the law. Any youngster above the age of about 10 years these days is likely to recognize the physical mistreatment was wrong at the very least.
The end was deemed to justify the means, and these lawyers were only too willing to torture the law to let the torturers loose. Long live George Orwell.
Links to all four memos are here (.PDF).
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