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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/8/16

Fix U.S. Law Against Torture -- It's Now or Never

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Fix U.S. Law Against Torture -- It's Now or Never

Our laws have human consequences. The actions and rhetoric of our political leaders prove we can no longer trust them to interpret the vague definition of torture written into current U.S. law. It is vital that we clarify our law against torture to guarantee that it can never be distorted or circumvented again.

Protest against George W. Bush speaking at Beth El synagogue in St. Louis Park
Protest against George W. Bush speaking at Beth El synagogue in St. Louis Park
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The Republican nominee for president of the United States has repeated his call for the use of torture to punish terrorists because, "They chop off heads and they drown people in cages with 50 in a cage in big steel heavy cages"" To quote Donald Trump, "Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat. I would approve more than that. It works." The Republican candidate then added, ""and if it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us."

The United States of America is one election away from swearing in a president who considers torture an acceptable punishment and a means of revenge. He advocates dropping our national morality down to the level of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, villains who have no regard for human life or human dignity. He plans to ignore international law and treaties. His speeches imply that he will carry-on the legacy of President George W. Bush, who was the first president of the United States to formally authorize torture.

It is disingenuous to say that one cannot make an unambiguous definition of torture. Reasonable people know torture when they see it, but it is necessary to declare it clearly in the law to avoid the trickery we've witnessed in the past. President Obama signed an executive order to limit interrogation techniques to those included in the Army Field Manual. This limitation could be overturned by a future president with the stroke of a pen. We must make it impossible for future administrations to go around the law by amending the United States Code to add subparagraph (2) (E) under "Title 18--Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Chapter 113C--Torture, -2340, Definitions."

Here is a proposed wording for the new paragraph:

(2)(E) The following acts are always torture: water boarding or other means of preventing a person from normal breathing, forced nudity, shackling a person's hands above their heads, sleep deprivation, subjecting a person to extreme temperatures, confinement in a box, slamming a person into a wall, sexual humiliation, threatening a person with animals or insects, stress positions (pain positions), withholding food, withholding medical attention, withholding toilet and washing facilities, solitary confinement, subjecting a person to loud noises or loud music, sensory deprivation, slapping, water-dousing, standing for long periods, electric shock and rape.

Every human being, no matter who they are or what they've done, has an absolute right to be free from torture. We should never ask anyone in our armed forces, police forces or any other government position, to perform acts of torture -- ever.

[Video: Audience Applauds Bush for Using Torture.]

More articles by Joseph Suste:

Do Americans Want a Strongman for President?

It's Time to Update United States Law on Torture

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Joseph Suste's experience raising two daughters on a mini-ranch in Southern Oregon form the basis for his 2014 novel, Sharp Obsidian. His activist attempts to stop abusive interrogation tactics inspired his most recent book, The Torture Trial of (more...)
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