October 03, 2004

Legalizing Torture

If, four short years ago, you had told me that the Speaker of the House would introduce legislation which would allow the government to have people it said it suspected of terrorism deported for purposes of torture, with recourse to the courts explicitly forbidden and treaties we have signed against torture declared inapplicable; that he would be supported by the rest of his congressional party and by the executive branch; if you had told me this, I would have said you were crazy. Indeed, the only question in my mind would be whether your paranoia was of the right-wing black-helicopters-from-ZOG variety, or one of its left-wing, even-Ed-Herman-is-a-tool-of-the-multinationals counterparts.

Silly me.

The news of this comes by way of Obsidian Wings: Legalizing Torture and Torture Outsourcing Update. "Outsourcing torture" seems to be the spontaneously-chosen label for this disgusting practice, officially known as "extraordinary rendition". (Fafblog: "how can any red-blooded pro-torture Congressman justify outsourcing our nation's torture work when American torturers are losing their jobs every day?") To lift a useful phrase from a related context, this is "fractally evil": "a stain on the soul of everyone who devised this policy, everyone who implements it, everyone who supports it, and everyone who tolerates it." Please don't talk to me about ticking bombs. We're talking about beating, electrocuting and maiming people so that, at best, your risk of sudden death is reduced by 0.0001 percent. The prohibition of torture, like that of slavery, is one of the things which distinguishes an actual civilization worth defending from a bunch of apes who've figured out how to build cages.

A measure has been proposed in the House to explicitly prevent this, and has, currently, twenty-three sponsors; that is to say, there are twenty-three members of Congress who have given some sign they would like the United States of America to be a civilized country, displaying at least minimal respect for human rights and the rule of law; a "decent respect for the opinion of mankind", as we used to say. Mine is not; I wrote a suitably outraged letter to him yesterday. (Obsidian Wings provides a model letter you can use here.) You should really do this, if you're a U.S. citizen.

Of course, some of us prefer the cage.

The Continuing Crisis

Posted by crshalizi at October 03, 2004 07:08 | permanent link

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