Revolution #104, October 14, 2007

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Torturers, and Proven Liars, Once Again


George Bush is a torturer and a liar, a brazen liar. The U.S. government is made up of torturers and liars. And they’ve been caught—blatantly torturing and blatantly lying—again.

On October 4, the New York Times revealed secret Justice Department memos, dating from 2005, authorizing torture: barrages of painful, cruel, degrading, and damaging treatment. The things the Bush regime has done to detainees—and which have been approved by its Justice Department—include head-slapping, “waterboarding” (“pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation,” as the New York Times describes it), holding detainees naked in cells at frigid temperatures, preventing them from sleeping for days on end while battering them with thundering rock music, and handcuffing prisoners for long periods in painful or damaging positions. And this is what’s known. No doubt many other horrendous atrocities are being committed that have yet to see the light of day. And the Bush memos justified inflicting these cruelties one after the other—or at the same time.

There is no serious legal—much less moral or political—argument about any this—it’s torture, pure and simple. And torture is a war crime. It’s a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition on “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment. It’s a direct violation of U.S. law because the U.S. government has signed onto the Geneva Conventions.

But none of this has stopped Bush and his fellow torturers from brazenly lying about it. “This government does not torture people,” Bush declared following the New York Times revelations. This follows a pattern. In December 2004, the Justice Department—following a furor over previous Bush “torture memos” which OK’d any treatment as long as it didn’t result in organ failure or death—publicly declared in a legal opinion, “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms.” Now it turns out that a few months later, after Alberto Gonzales took over the “Justice Department” in February 2005, he and other Bush lawyers immediately began drafting secret documents—now revealed by the Times, justifying torture, and that these secret directives have been in operation ever since.

This follows the Bush regime’s pattern of, when faced with a political furor when its methods have been exposed, lying blatantly about their actions—sometimes indicating a retreat from the worst abuses—while secretly making sure they continue, fighting to make sure torture of the worst kind continues. In 2005, after Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act banning “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, and again in 2006 after the Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, the Bush regime apparently suspended some activities for a brief period but quickly had its lawyers justify the torture by claiming that none of its practices violated U.S. laws in order to ensure torture—and secret detentions at so-called “Black sites”—would continue.

Meanwhile, Congress and the courts have done nothing to stop this—except pass a few face-saving resolutions in order to deceive the public into thinking that something is being done and the system works. But what all this shows is that this is a torture system and a system based on torture.

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