What have we become?
I copied the following quote directly from the whitehouse.gov website. Bush was in Korea and being interviewed by the press there.
"Q. Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture? PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture. And, therefore, we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible -- more possible to do our job. There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans, and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that's why you're seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress. We want to work together in this matter. We -- all of us have an obligation, and it's a solemn obligation and a solemn responsibility. And I'm confident that when people see the facts, that they'll recognize that we've -- they've got more work to do, and that we must protect ourselves in a way that is lawful."
This is a perfect example of why you have to parse the words that come out of the mouth of these people so carefully. This is masterful deception. On first reading it seems to say that the US is obeying the law and that we don't torture people. That is not at all what they are saying. First Bush goes into a typical litany about the US being at war. Next he states:
"We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice." A normal definition of "bringing them to justice" would include arresting a person and trying and convicting them of a crime then carrying out the sentence made by the court or jury. This has in fact not happened to a single terrorist. What Bush means by justice could mean anything from extra-judicial assassination to indefinite detention without hearing.
"We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law."
This is a rather astonishing statement to make. He is actually saying that they can do whatever they want to in this war on terror and it is legal. But lets just assume that his typical poor grammar is at play here and that's not what he meant. The next sentence seems pretty clear.
"We do not torture."
But it isn't. You see Alberto Gonzales when he was still White House Counsel wrote several memos stating the legal position of the White House on issues relating to the Geneva Convention and torture. Among many other astonishing statements he stated that their new definition of torture was, "Equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." This definition radically different than the definition of torture in the Geneva Conventions. We must assume that Bush is using his own definition of the word since overwhelming evidence, including documentary, and eyewitness evidence is that we use a large variety of techniques that are torture or tantamount to torture under the Geneva Convention. These include but are not limited to water boarding, electric shocks, dogs, "stress positions", and sexual humiliation.
Now remember the question was "do you agree... that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?" He never answers this question. The context of this is that dick Cheney was aggressively pressuring Senator McCain (R- AZ) to put an exemption for the CIA in his amendment that would require the US to follow the Geneva Convention on torture. There is no nice way to interpret this. Senator McCain wants to make it explicit that torture is illegal. Cheney wants it to be legal for the CIA to torture people. This is the closest Bush gets to answering the question.
"And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that's why you're seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress."
He is saying that they intend to use torture and that Cheney is working hard to make it legal to do so. If they really didn't intend to torture people why would they work so hard at such an obvious political risk to ensure that torture is legal at least for the CIA.
This is how our government has become the villains. This is how we have all become accessories.