The U.S. Tortures People

From today's Washington Post:

President Bush said Saturday that he has vetoed legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics because it "would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror."

In his weekly radio address, Bush said, "This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe." [more]

The bill Bush vetoed would have required the CIA and other intelligence agencies to follow the same standard that applies in the military. For the record, here are the practices that Bush thinks are so indispensable:

• Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner.
• Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee; using duct tape over the eyes.
• Applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or other forms of physical pain.
• “Waterboarding.”
• Using military working dogs.
• Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.
• Conducting mock executions.
• Depriving the detainee of necessary food, water, or medical care.

Here's my question: if doing these things is the only way America can be kept safe, do we really deserve to be safe? Exactly what is it, pray tell, that distinguishes us from the terrorists we are fighting? Why is it that they are considered barbaric and we are not?

Bush has, on many occasions, looked into a camera and told the public "The United States does not torture." Why, then, does he use the veto to preserve for the CIA the right to perform acts that any sensible person can see are torture? The answer is that he is lying. Note what Bush said today: he is preserving techniques that "have a proven track record." That means we have already done these things. He's not just saving up for a rainy day.

Listen closely, Republicans. George W. Bush is a liar. When he says the U.S. does not torture, Bush is lying just as surely as Bill Clinton was lying when he said he had no sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. To hide his lies, Clinton parsed the definition of "is." To justify his lies, Bush parses the definition of "torture." Where is the difference? Republicans who were up in arms about Clinton's lies give their own guy a pass.

Bush's lies are, in fact, far worse than Clinton's lies, which concerned only his personal acts. Acting in your name and by the authority you gave him, President Bush just made evil into official American policy and then lied about it. Congratulations. I hope you're proud of him.

I'll make a prediction here and now: this evil will not keep us safe. Instead it will do the exact opposite. Bush is putting the American people in more danger than ever. In this life or the next, he will pay a price for endorsing this evil. So will we all.

One more point: the fact that John McCain says he opposes torture is one of the few things that I find attractive about his candidacy. Yet McCain inexplicably sided with Bush when this bill came before the Senate last month. This tells us something important. Remember it in November.

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