Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Looking at torture

Last night's Frontline looked long and hard at how far we have slipped on the torture slope. I didn't bother to watch it all for the same reason that I didn't watch Schindler's List: I already got it. Don't need any more consciousness-raising, thanks. Watching stuff like that only makes me sad and angry because I know it is depicting part of me...a citizen, taxpayer, voter, veteran, patriot, someone not in any position to deny what it represents and helpless to do much to correct the problem aside from spreading the word. When the issue raised its ugly head most recently I took note. When Captain Fishback's letter to Senator McCain was published I felt better.

Unfortunately, all that emanates from all quarters is a heavy silence. When the HRW report was published, before the source was named, I wrote: I'm waiting for a truly authoritative source to firmly and clearly discredit this report. I'm not interested in spin or counter-charges or "they-do-worse-than-that" crap. Of course they do. But I like to think that we are better than that.

And I waited. And waited.
Then Captain Fishback's identity became known. He wrote a letter to Senator McCain, who was able to put a bill through that would guard against such abuses. But the Senate bills have to go through the House and to the President for final passage, and it appears there is no bright expectation that the Senate bill will make it through those obstacles in it's present form.

The fact is there are too many people -- not just in the general population and the chattering classes, but also in positions of real power and control, who really don't care if "detainees" or "PUC's" are subjected to torture. I don't have to go far in everyday conversation among people I speak with to find those who, if they are not completely indifferent to the matter, actually favor the notion of torture in the case of war prisoners. They would not use that word, of course. But after all the fluff is blown away, by definition they are advocating exactly that.

I want to end this post on a hopeful note, but I find nothing hopeful to report. It could be that I am reading too many of the wrong sites, but the only places concerned about US torture of prisoners is at sites with little or no real influence. And if the last linked story is correct, the President himself is warming up to a veto.

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