I was disappointed to see that President Bush vetoed the proposed ban on waterboarding and other forms of torture that the CIA and its operatives may have been using against terror suspects. The President argued that this is "no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe."
The bill, passed by both houses of Congress last month, would have also banned beatings, electrocution, burning, using dogs to terrorize suspects, stripping detainees, and forcing them to perform or mimic sexual acts.
Now, I recognize that the Democratic-controlled Congress has a political angle to pushing this bill, and that overriding President Bush's veto would be an election-year gambit that would pay dividends in the fall. Yet the Democrats - as well as Republicans who supported the ban, like John McCain - happen to be right on this one.
It is duplicitous for the United States to demand that other nations behave in a transparent and humane manner, while simultaneously engaging in some of the most egregious forms of torture and defying the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. has long been a signatory. The President can attempt to disguise American war crimes with flowery language like "specialized interrogation procedures" and "extraordinary rendition," but he got us into the Iraq War under the premise (among many) that we were replacing a brutal tyrant who terrorized his people.
For far too long we have ignored the abuses heaped upon detainees in the so-called War on Terror, let alone the violence perpetrated against innocent people like Khalid El-Masri and Abu Omar. If we truly believe that the United States is a beacon of freedom and hope to the rest of the world, then we need to act accordingly, as opposed to spending all of our waking moments trying to negotiate a quarter-point loan difference between a half-dozen mortgage lenders.
Otherwise, we are just another in a long line of nations comprised of state-sanctioned thugs and passive citizens who are cowed by fear against speaking out.