Thursday, September 14, 2006

Judge Orwell meet President Orwell

The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial said Thursday that he does not believe Hussein was a dictator. Judge Abdullah al-Amiri made the remark in a friendly exchange with the deposed leader, a day after the prosecution said the judge should step down because he is biased toward the defense. Hussein and his co-defendants are being tried on charges of committing atrocities against Kurds in northern Iraq nearly two decades ago. Questioning a Kurdish witness Thursday, Hussein said, "I wonder why this man wanted to meet with me, if I am a dictator?" The judge interrupted: "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator." "Thank you," Hussein responded, bowing his head in respect.

President Bush, last week:

"I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it - and I will not authorize it."

President Bush, four years ago:

On August 1, 2002 a Justice Department memorandum, "Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," the so-called "Torture Memo" written by John Yoo and signed by Jay Bybee, now a federal appeals court judge, became U.S. policy. The new United States policy, notwithstanding President Bush's claim that "We do not torture," from that day forward we that the U.S. could proscribe "acts inflicting, and that are specifically intended to inflict, severe pain or suffering, whether mental or physical...certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intensity to [be considered torture.]" Torture is defined as being, "it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years."

So short of organ failure, impairment of bodily function or death you can have at it. Seems clear that hammering nails under the nails of detainees is clear. Same with pulling their nails out with pliers. What about pulling the nails out of their children while they watch and your co-interrogators eat popcorn? It's not death. It's not organ failure. It doesn't impair a bodily function. How about "waterboarding" where you strap people down to simulate drowning. Seems "legal" under the new legalisms. How about forcing a detainee to eat dog poop? How about torturing an already mentally ill person who spews out imaginary plots and plans? Allowed. How about battery cables clipped to testicles? It's not death or organ failure and I'm sure there's a team of government lawyers just waiting to argue it doesn't impair a bodily function since the prisoners could still urinate -- look they just did so involuntarily all over themselves! So the so-called "torture memo" approves "alternative interrogation methods" but not torture. Wink, wink. So when President Bush tells Matt Lauer that if he had the mastermind of 9/11 in custody, the American people would say "Why don’t you see if you can’t get information out of him without torturing him, which is what we did." So don't torture Khalid Sheik Mohammed just get information out of him by using alternative interrogation techniques. And before you have him executed without letting him see the evidence against him or be able to challenge the charges give him a nice doggie bag for his fingernails and testicles. And if you happen to do this to some innocent cabdriver who got picked up in Afghanistan by accident, well hey, war is hell.

And before you think I'm some leftist, terrorist-loving type of guy, here's a quote for another, as Andrew Sullivan says, "leftist, terrorist-loving, draft-dodging guy who "doesn't get" the threat from terrorism -- it's from Colin Powell in a letter dated Sept. 13, 2006: "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk." Who else is against this? "liberals" such as Republican Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

In Iraq, a war crimes judge says to Saddam, "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator." In the U.S. President Bush says we do not torture and that he hasn't authorized torture. It's just that the people around him made him look like he did.


Blogger Ellen Beth said...

Hey Curmudg: You leftist, terrorist-loving type of guy, you must be confused.

7:28 PM  

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