"VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture." --WashingtonPost.com editorial, Oct 26, 2005
This editorial goes on bravely to point out what most members of the mainline media are afraid to mention for fear of being labeled "unpatriotic".
"His position is not just some abstract defense of presidential power. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have "disappeared," like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including "waterboarding," or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees." --ibid
Few matters are black & white, but this is one of those matters which absolutely separates people with evil intentions from those with good intentions. On the good side, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) proposed an amendment to the defense spending bill which prohibits "the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by any U. S. personnel".
90 Senators voted for McCain's amendment.
It is this amendment that our Vice President wants to undo. First he threatened a Presidential veto of the entire defense spending bill; now he's actively campaigning to change the wording to "formally adopt cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as a legal instrument of U. S. policy" under the auspices of the CIA.
The WashingtonPost.com editorial concludes:
"The Senate's earlier vote suggests that it will not allow such a betrayal of American values. As for Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture." --ibid
But do most Americans even know that this is going on right now?
I have no doubt that future historians will characterize Cheney as the V. P. who (among other things) advocated torture. But will they also characterize us as the generation of Americans who didn't care & didn't want to know; the generation who preferred to remain ignorant of the evil done in their name?