In considering today’s Senate vote on a detainee interrogation bill, which passed 65-34, I have to wonder: is Congress bent on making itself obsolete?
The bill would give the president the authority to interpret the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions and decide what interrogation procedures are appropriate for terrorist suspects. The bill would also supposedly prohibit some of the “worst” abuses such as rape and mutilation. Other dubious methods, such as the infamous waterboarding technique and subjecting prisoners to humiliating and painful treatments, would still be allowed. The Supreme Court nullified President Bush’s initial system for trying detainees as unconstitutional last June. It seems only some slight dressmaking has convinced Congress that it is worthy of passage despite its violations of the U.S. Constitution and its questionable moral implications.
This bill was voted through only two weeks after the Associated Press reported that the prisons in Abu Ghraib, Guantamano Bay and secret prisons in Eastern Europe have created a legal vacuum for approximately 14,000 individuals. The same article revealed that U.S. officers once told Red Cross that “seventy to 90 percent” of Iraq detentions in 2003 were “mistakes.” In many of these cases, former prisoners have reported that they were often interrogated incessantly and released months or years later without apology or compensation.
With this new bill, the president can continue to imprison individuals, regardless of their guilt and apply “tough” methods to extract “truth.” To be blunt, Congress has granted the President immunity from constitutional law and even from itself; Congress has given the President permission to allow torture, and to declare it as something else to evade the American public. Congress has given the President the power to act outside of itself and the courts in considering the treatment of human beings who may or may NOT be guilty of terrorist crimes.
The bill would also deny habeas corpus, the right of a prisoner to protest his treatment in court and will allow hearsay evidence against them. This is disconcerting, considering the prisoners of Abu Ghraib scandal already suffered lack of legal counsel and underwent torture without this bill. With such treatment now legally condoned and fully up to our impulsive president’s discretion, the situation at Abu Ghraib threatens to proliferate and become commonplace.
I wonder if the American public has forgotten the horrific photos of Abu Ghraib. Or is it that we are simply too sedated by our multitudes of medications, by our televisions, cell phones, i-pods and other trinkets? Are we to dumbed down by convenience or apathy to be outraged by the uprising of an empire and dictatorship that threatens to completely eradicate our country’s collective morality? In case anyone has forgotten or has not had the opportunity to view the pictures of Abu Ghraib, please do. Here are some links: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/02/16/abu_ghraib/portfolio.html or http://mindprod.com/politics/abughraibpix.html (scroll down).
Perhaps this is not torture, according to some. Yet, “Seventy of 90 percent” of these captures could be a mistake. How many in these pictures suffered simply because of our country’s need to scapegoat? If our own had suffered the atrocities exposed in these pictures, I doubt it would be called any less than cruel and akin to torture.
We are quickly approaching a dictatorship. As the President also attempts to get Congress to pass a law to condone his NSA wiretaps and confiscation of all of our phone records, I ask please that we all put down our toys and take back our country.