The White House yesterday condemned human rights abuses in Iraq. (Yes, that's right -- Iraq with a 'q'!) Says the New York Times:
The State Department on Monday detailed an array of human rights abuses last year by the Iraqi government, including torture, rape and illegal detentions by police officers and functionaries of the interim administration that took power in June.
In the Bush administration's bluntest description of human rights transgressions by the American-supported government, the report said the Iraqis "generally respected human rights, but serious problems remained" as the government and American-led foreign forces fought a violent insurgency. It cited "reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions - particularly in pretrial detention facilities - and arbitrary arrest and detention."
Either they're goofing on us, or they really don't think anyone is paying attention.
The allegations of abuses by an Iraqi government installed by the United States and still heavily influenced by it provided an unusual element to the larger report. The report did not address incidents in Iraq in which Americans were involved, like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which came to light in 2004.
This is just one instance where America pays the price for embracing policies of torture and disregard for international standards and norms of human rights. Just a month ago, we had our new Secretary of State and Attorney General declaring to the Senate unwillingness to disavow and condemn torture, and refusal to take responsiblity for their parts in making torture a part of US military and paramilitary policy.
Who the fuck is the Bush Administration to condemn Iraq for acts of turture and human rights abuses that the Bush Administration itself advocated and administered in the very same country at the very same time?
What is this? Soviet Russia? Are we now supposed to pretend that Abu Ghraib never happened? Are we supposed to forget that Alberto Gonzales led the legal charge to rationalize and approve use of torture?
What sickens me -- what sickens millions of us Americans -- is that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Rice, Attorney General Gonzales and a whole host of others have been employing these policies with a real self-righteousness based upon their own perverted, twisted views of humanity ... and they've been doing it in the name of America.
We are all soiled by their sin of torture. We all, as a people, will pay for their sin. Think about that.
Think about it when you look at the babies in strollers at the store, when you see children giggling and laughing on the playground, when you see ordinary people going about their lives every day. While each and every person in the Bush Administration refuses to take responsibility for his or her own actions (and their collective actions), and while they all refuse to disavow use of torture in American foreign -- and domestic -- policy, we Americans, including our children, will pay the price.
In our own country, we have American citizens being held without charges. Just yesterday, a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to either charge or release American citizen Jose Padilla:
The judge said he had no choice but to reject the president's claim that he had the power to detain Mr. Padilla, who was arrested in May 2002 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and was later accused of having planned to detonate a radiation-spewing "dirty bomb" in the United States as part of a plot by Al Qaeda.
"To do otherwise would not only offend the rule of law and violate this country's constitutional tradition," Judge Floyd wrote, "but it would also be a betrayal of this nation's commitment to the separation of powers that safeguards our democratic values and individual liberties."
Judge Floyd, who was nominated to the court by President Bush in May 2003, said that to agree with the president would "be to engage in judicial activism," a phrase often used by the White House to criticize rulings with which it disagrees.
Although Judge Floyd's opinion was notable for its sweeping language, its substance was not a surprise because it reflected a Supreme Court ruling last June in a related case involving Yaser Esam Hamdi. Mr. Hamdi, a Saudi who was an American citizen by virtue of his birth in the United States, was arrested on the battlefield in Afghanistan and held as an enemy combatant in the same brig in Charleston.
The justices ruled that Mr. Hamdi was entitled to have his case heard in court, saying "a state of war is not a blank check for the president."
Yes, these men may be very bad men -- they may be very very very bad horrible men. But in this country called America, there's this thing called the Constitution, and it says, among other things, that the President cannot just lock people up willy nilly. Every American is entitled by right to know what he or she is charged with and to face his or her accusers and have his or her day in court. The are our rights as citizens of the United States of America.
Why President Bush and his cohorts disagree, I don't know. But "law and order" without the law part is not justice, it's dictatorship.
America used to stand for freedom and justice and opportunity. But now, to the rest of the world, America stands for torture and killing on a mass scale -- all a part of doing what America wants to do rather than doing what is right. And we have President Bush and company to thank for it.
Al-Qaeda is a hate group that uses indiscriminate killing and horror to try to achieve its goals (whatever they might be). Why must we become more like them in order to fight them? Why must we become more like them in order to fight everyone else?