Bush Administration Re-Asserts Right to Torture

The Bush Administration is continuing to claim that it can torture prisoners in violation of international law despite the so-called “torture bill” and pledge of the President to comply with international rules. Congress, which has protected the president from any criminal investigation, is again professing shock and outrage in the longest institutional imitation of Claude Rains in history.

In a series of letters, the Justice Department has informed Congress that it continues to believe that torture can be ordered to fight terrorism. In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D, Or.) Brian A. Benczkowski, a deputy assistant attorney general says that “The fact that an act is undertaken to prevent a threatened terrorist attack, rather than for the purpose of humiliation or abuse, would be relevant to a reasonable observer in measuring the outrageousness of the act.” International law prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity.” For the letters, click here and here and here and here.

Obviously, since the Administration can claimed an anti-terrorism purpose in all of these cases, it is a meaningless standard. Moreover, international law does not change for motivation. When a cop tortures a prisoner in a Dirty Harry situation, he has the best motivations. However, it is a means that is prohibited under law.

The only thing for obnoxious than the Administration’s continued endorsement of torture is the continuing claim of shock from the Democrats. It was the Democrats (and specifically Senators Schumer and Feinstein) who saved Attorney General Mukasey’s confirmation on the torture question and helped him avoid having to answer whether waterboarding is torture.

Free from the threat of any serious congressional investigation, the Administration now openly discusses torture and compares our waterboarding techniques to other torturing nations, here.

Mukasey went on to refuse to answer the question after being given months of time, blocked any criminal investigation, and told jokesabout the issue.

The Democrats promised that they would not start impeachment proceedings against Bush when Speaker Pelosi was elected. Some Democrats would also be implicated in their knowledge of the torture program — a fact only recently revealed. So, many leading Democrats have the same interest as the White House in avoiding any recognition of the fact that the President ordered not just a crime but a war crime. This has led to some pretty twisted efforts at logic by Mukasey, who took an oath to prosecute criminals but has refused to acknowledge a criminal program repeatedly raised to him. Click here.

For the full story, click here.

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