[Vision2020] Bush's Tortured Logic Damages U.S.

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sat Sep 23 10:39:07 PDT 2006

>From today's (September 23, 2006) Spokesman Review -


Bush's tortured logic damages U.S. 
Robert Scheer 
September 23, 2006

What an outrage for the president to invoke the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights in his address to the United Nations, a day after a Canadian
government commission accused the United States of rendering a Canadian to
Syria for torture. Did no one on his staff inform the president that Article
5 of that declaration explicitly states, "No one shall be subjected to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"? 

For those, like Bush, who regard torture as a variant of college fraternity
hazing, it would be instructive to consider the fate of Maher Arar as
revealed in that devastating Canadian judicial report released Monday. Arar,
a Canadian citizen and engineer who had fled repressive Syria two decades
earlier as a teenager, was seized by the FBI at JFK Airport and "rendered"
to the government of Syria for nearly a year of being whipped with a
"shredded electrical cable until he was disoriented" - that is, when he was
not confined to his coffin-size cage. 

The United States transported Arar to the very same Syria that Bush has been
condemning since his first days in office, and as he did again on Tuesday,
calling the country "a crossroad for terrorism." So, will anyone in that
somnambulant White House press corps dare ask the president why he would
turn over a prisoner to such a government? And an innocent one at that? 

Yes, innocent. On Monday, the Canadian justice who headed a 30-month
investigation of this case concluded, "I am able to say categorically that
there is no evidence that Mr. Arar has committed any offense." The judge
employed characteristic Canadian restraint in concluding in his damning
three-volume, 822-page report: "The American authorities who handled Mr.
Arar's case treated Mr. Arar in a most regrettable fashion. They removed him
to Syria against his wishes and in the face of his statements that he would
be tortured if sent there. Moreover they dealt with Canadian officials
involved with Mr. Arar's case in a less than forthcoming manner." 

To put it a bit more bluntly: U.S. officials lied to their Canadian
counterparts and never revealed that Arar was "rendered" to Syria precisely
to be tortured. 

In fact, the outsourcing of torture, as Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., exposes so
brilliantly on his Web site, has been the official and all-too-common
practice of this president since Sept. 11. Foreign nationals have been
stolen off the streets of even close democratic allies of the United States
and sent to be tortured by regimes otherwise branded as fascist by this

Yet even the highly skilled and practiced torturers in Syria concluded that
the Canadian engineer was totally innocent. Since no one in this
administration has seen fit to apologize to Arar, or his government, are we
to conclude that they feel the Syrian torturers failed to find evidence of
guilt because they were too restrained in their techniques? We are not
likely to find out if Congress and the media continue to ignore the
frightening descent of this presidency into barbarism. 

The epic copout behind all this, of course, is that national security after
Sept. 11 requires the shredding of America's reputation for treating liberty
as sacred. The argument is that while errors may occur when you cast a wide
net - the United States currently is holding, according to an Associated
Press report last week, more than 14,000 uncharged foreign nationals in
unregulated military prisons around the world - these horrendous tactics are
needed to nab the truly bad actors. 

That, in effect, is the argument advanced by the president in his press
conference last week defending the efficacy, indeed the necessity, of
inhuman practices as proscribed in Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
Burbling with his standard unwarranted optimism, Bush cited what he claimed
to be the excellent results of the interrogation of alleged Sept. 11
mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been held prisoner in secret
locations for the past three years. 

But according to the reports of the 9-11 commission and the Senate
Intelligence Committee, what has been learned from the interrogation of
Khalid and other "key witnesses" is that there was nothing but enmity
between Osama bin Laden's gang and the regime of Saddam Hussein. Despite up
to five years of torture, it seems that those key witnesses still did not
tell the Bush administration what it wanted to hear. Perhaps they should
have been rendered to some other nation with a richer tradition in such
investigative techniques.


Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by the
General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948:


"Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment."

Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Vandalville, Idaho


"What does that mean, 'outrages upon human dignity'? That's a statement that
is wide open to interpretation."

-- George W. Bush


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