Monday, June 25, 2007

Torture & the Vampire Veep

Bridgethought of the Day: Even the greatest political power, at some point putters out. And then all the deep, dark rubbish rises to the surface. It helps if you don't snear.

In commemoration of Torture Awareness Week, Mr. Torture himself, the Vampire Veep, was rotisseried all week by the Washington Post in their
fantastic series on Cheney . His cloak-and-dagger sophisticated but underhanded power playing affected and apparently shaped everything we hate about the Administration, from the promotion and use of torture, the attempts to eliminate due process in the War on Terror, to the ransacking of the environment on behalf of anything big and elite - oil conglomerates, huge corporations - and more. This is the biggest thing since Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke open the Watergate scandal. In fact, this is bigger than Watergate. At stake is not only elections and the political process, but just about everything there is in government, and in fact, the Constitution itself and the democratic ideals it was written to safeguard.

Oon this week, I especially commemorate Dick, the Vampire Veep, for his promotion of "robust interrogation" and the "redefinition" of torture. The purpose of redefining torture is to make it "legal" and so be able to lie and say "we do not torture", while we most certainly do. Yes, the Vampire Veep redefined torture to mean the inflicting of pain so severe it causes (or is comparable to) organ failure or death. Anything less is not torture. Don't let this pass sleeping.

Not everything the Nazis did to the Jews in the Holocaust caused organ failure or death - so that part did not constitute "torture", and is therefore OK, according to Cheney and his ilk. It counts out the horrors of numbers being tattooed on victims' arms, for example, since that did not cause death. The herding of men, women and children like animals, to the slaughter, was in and of itself not Cheney's idea of torture, even though they were naked - not until organ death or death occurred. None of those who survived the Holocaust could have been tortured, since according to Cheney's definition, they lived. It was not torture to witness the torturing of others, and there is not such thing as "psychological torture" since one is technically still alive.

Of course, Cheney wasn't thinking of the Holocaust. He was thinking of terrorists. But you can't change definitions like suits. You cannot take a stand against torture for one group, such as one's buddies, and then OK it for another group, such as one's enemies. It must be condemned unequivocably for all human beings for all time. What comes after death is God's business. What comes before death is our responsibility, and label-changing does not change the truth. Ask Sister Dianna Ortiz, and consider the horrors she endured. In 1989, she was abducted by security forces while working as a missionary among indigenous people in Guatemala. She was taken to a secret prison in the capital center and brutally tortured. She was burned with cigarettes, raped, beaten and forced to torture a woman who was already near death. She survived. So, according to Cheney, it wasn't torture.

To say that, to re-define torture is a high crime. To deny Sister Ortiz's or countless other victims' torture, to redefine torture in order to implement it for one's own agenda are high crimes far outstripping "bribery", the only clear-cut "impeachable" offense. Dick Cheney must be impeached.

The Republicans are going to try to get rid of him. We should impeach him, and he should stand trial for his treachery - against the Constitution, the American people, and their government - not to mention all those souls his policies have violated beyond the scope of this. He should not be allowed to just retire into quiet oblivion on the pretext of a pacemaker battery-change.

The Vampire Veep sucked the blood out of free enterprise with his pro-bigpower policies, sucked the blood out of democratic process by his circumvention of all checks and balances and his systematic concentration of power in the executive branch, sucked the power out of human rights and social welfare programs and environmental safeguards by favoring giant Corporate Interests, sucked the blood out of our national defense by foreign adventurism and creating terror hotspots instead of diplomacy, and more...

Are these not impeachable offenses? Then what, pray tell, is? It was not bribery or burglary, but something far more sinister, and beyond the scope of law, being somehow, so we are told, perfectly "legal". Promoting torture is not even a misdemeanor?

Some torture awareness related news hits the White House, per Democracy Now's recap:

Students Criticize Torture in White House Meeting With Bush

Meanwhile protests are continuing over the Bush administration's support for torture. On Monday the president was personally presented a letter signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program. The letter said: "We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants." White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the president was not expecting the students' letter but read it and then told the students that that United States does not torture and that the country values human rights. Meanwhile protests are taking place today across the country to mark the UN's International Day to Remember the Victims of Torture. In Washington the American Civil Liberties Union is organizing a Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice.

Sister Dianna Ortiz and Torture Survivors Hold 24-Hour Vigil Outside White House

Transcript here

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