Friday, March 03, 2006

Anti-Torture Law doesn't apply to Guantanamo

The McCain amendment cannot be applied at Guantanamo because, while torture is forbidden, U.S. Courts do not have jurisdiction there. So argued Department of Justice lawyers yesterday on behalf of the administration who is facing charges of torture by a prisoner who was force fed after he began a hunger strike. The judge in the case:
"These allegations . . . describe disgusting treatment, that if proven, is treatment that is cruel, profoundly disturbing and violative of" U.S. and foreign treaties banning torture, Kessler told the government's lawyers. She said she needs more information, but made clear she is considering banning the use of larger nasal-gastric tubes and the restraint chair.
However, her ban may be toothless, thanks to the law passed.

In court filings, the Justice Department lawyers argued that language in the law written by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) gives Guantanamo Bay detainees access to the courts only to appeal their enemy combatant status determinations and convictions by military commissions.

"Unfortunately, I think the government's right; it's a correct reading of the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts."

So, was Congress asleep when they passed this part of the law? Ask your representatives this question during the upcoming elections. Did they know they were passing this? Ask them. Then, if they were asleep or knew and favored the provision, vote those mothers out. It's bad enough that we toss out many of our own civil rights with the passage of the so-called Patriot Act, but to condone torture in any U.S. or U.S. affiliated facility or by foreign agents erodes what little moral and ethical standing we have to condemn others of similar or even worse crimes. If you cannot see the logic in that, then perhaps you're considering your own run for Congress.

Rick Steves had a great Op Ed in The Seattle Times yesterday on the real threat to America.

The prospect of al-Qaida attacks is frightening. But America is being held hostage not by a man in a cave, but by clever people with a different agenda. They use Osama bin Laden to scare us — even terrorize us — into funding an agenda that's weakening our country.

It's time for patriots to stand up to fear-mongering and broaden our definition of "sanctity of life" and "homeland security." It's time for some courage and eloquence on the left. And it's time for our electorate to wake up and see the real threats to our for-the-time-being-still-great nation. If we rose to this challenge, I think we could report that "the state of our union is strong" — and it would be true.

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