Thursday, August 02, 2007

No need to read between the lines

The US government, with the support of it's President and Attorney General, engages in torture. Were that not so, it would be easy to clearly indicate that torture was not in the CIA's tool kit. Instead, Gonzalez has to parse his words. From his testimony (source) before Congress...

DURBIN: Mr. Attorney General, the opinion of the judge advocates general was unanimous. They all agreed that the following interrogation techniques violate Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions -- and there are five -- painful stress positions, threatening detainees with dogs, forced nudity, waterboarding and mock execution.Do you agree?

GONZALES: Senator, I'm not going to get in a public discussion here about possible techniques that may be used by the CIA to protect our country.What I can say is the executive order lays out a very careful framework to ensure that those agents working for the CIA trying to get information about the next attack do so in a way that is consistent with our legal obligations.And so, again, without commenting on specific techniques, we understand what the rules of the road are.

DURBIN: Mr. Attorney General, do you know what you are saying to the world about the United States when you refuse to acknowledge that these techniques are beyond the law, beyond the tradition of America?

DURBIN: These judge advocates general have a responsibility as well. They have been explicit and unanimous. The problem with your statement, Mr. Attorney General, is that you are leaving room for the possibility that you disagree with them.

GONZALES: And, of course, those in the military are subject to the Army Field Manual. It's a standard of conduct that is way above Common Article 3. And so they come at it from a different perspective, quite frankly, Senator.And, again, I wish I could talk in more detail about specific actions, but I cannot do that in an open setting.

DURBIN: But let me just ask you to consider this for a moment.Aside from the impact of what you've just said on America's reputation in the world, aside from the fact that we have ample record that you have disagreed with the use of Geneva Convention standards and have pushed the torture issue beyond where the courts and the congress would take it, would it be legal for a foreign government to subject a United States citizen to these so-called enhanced interrogation techniques which I just read?

GONZALES: Would it be legal for the United States government to subject...

DURBIN: No, for a foreign government...

GONZALES: For a foreign government.

DURBIN: ... to subject a United States citizen to the five -- any of the five interrogation techniques which I read to you?

GONZALES: Well, again, Senator, we would take the position if you're talking about an American soldier who fights pursuant to the rules of the Geneva Convention...

DURBIN: No, no, no. That's a different story. That's a uniformed person. I'm talking about a U.S. citizen.

GONZALES: Would it be legal under their laws? Would it be legal under international standards? What do you mean by, "Would it be legal?"We obviously would demand humane treatment and treatment for our U.S. citizens consistent with international legal obligations.

In other words, our government would demand that other governments not do to our citizens what we will not say we are not doing to their citizens.

Did I just type that?? With that kind of double-speak, I could be Attorney General.

Here's a video clip of Gonzalez on the same topic. Hang in there until the end of the clip and you'll see that our government does not prohibit the use of waterboarding or mock executions, to use two examples, and that the Attorney General says it is not 'clear' that such techniques are morally wrong.

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