If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead is applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government. It destroys the whole notion of individual rights. The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America -- even those designated as 'unlawful enemy combatants.' If you make this exception the whole Constitution crumbles.
- - Alberto J. Mora, former Navy General Counsel
Torture has been privatized now, so you have obviously the whole scandal in America about the abuse of prisoners and the fact that, army people might be made to pay a price, but who are the privatized torturers accountable to? --Arundhati Roy
We do not torture. -George W. Bush
Phillippe Sands, author of the Vanity Fair article that thrust the issue of torture into the mainstream media where it should be daily until it is no longer an issue, appeared this week on Democracy Now! and Bill Moyers Journal.
Sands cuts through the argument that the issue of torture is something that "trickled up." He specifically looks at Detainee 063, a detainee that was tortured in late 2002 for several weeks.
What does Detainee 063 reveal? It reveals the crucial answer to how the military began to adopt a procedure that involved coercive interrogations and torture.
Sands also focuses on an "action memo" from November 2002 written by William J. (Jim) Haynes II, the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. In this memo, often called the Haynes Memoe, Rumsfeld gave "“blanket approval” to 15 out of 18 proposed techniques of aggressive interrogation."
On December 2, 2002, Rumsfeld signed "his name firmly next to the word “Approved.” Under his signature he also scrawled a few words that refer to the length of time a detainee can be forced to stand during interrogation: “I stand for 8–10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?""
Not only does this exhibit a ghastly level of callowness and callousness but it is illegal. As Sands points out in his Vanity Fair piece, "Cruelty, humiliation, and the use of torture on detainees have long been prohibited by international law, including the Geneva Conventions and their Common Article 3. This total ban was reinforced in 1984 with the adoption of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which criminalizes torture and complicity in torture."
Not to mention 18 interrogation techniques used violate the U.S. Army Field Manual, which as Sands said in his appearances, is the "Bible" for the military.
Phillippe Sands did not just appear on those two shows. His article and newly published book The Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values earned him the opportunity to go testify at a hearing before Congress. The responses to his testimony reveal how America has become accepting of a "culture of cruelty" and also how the power structures in this country (our two-party system and the people's lack of voice, respect, and representation in government) are abysmal:
REP. STEVE KING:"Wallowing in self-guilt as a nation, and bringing hearings before this Congress and pumping this into the media constantly, when we've identified that these are narrow, very narrow, exceptional circumstances, and at our knowledge on it isn't complete, that it extends the outrage,That this panel and this testimony, and those things that supplement it across this media, also extend the outrage and may be extending this global war against these people, whom we won't call terrorists, we'll call them Islamic jihadists."
REP. MIKE PENCE: Some, of course, have suggested that relationship-building interrogation techniques are preferable and even more reliable in the long-run than stress methods. They raise the question, though, what about the hard cases? And I can tell by your grin you acknowledge the somewhat absurd thought that you could move people who have masterminded the death of more than 3000 Americans by Oprah Winfrey methods."
Granted, these are Republicans. But what does Speaker Nancy Pelosi have to say about torture?
In December of last year, John Nichols reported in The Nation that, "Pelosi knew as early as 2002 that the U.S. was using waterboarding and other torture techniques and, far from objecting, appears to have cheered the tactics on."
The House subpoenaed David Addington, Cheney's chief-of-staff who is closely linked to the torture memos. Others are volunteering to testify.