Monday, November 07, 2005

Cheney: Blackbelt in Torture

It is mindboggling to hear the Vice President of the United States continue to advocate for an exemption in our torture policy for CIA agents who have been implicated numerous times for violations. Cheney and the rest of the Bush War Council have ushered one of the darkest eras of our country's history.

In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. On a trip to Canada last month, Rice interrupted a packed itinerary to hold a secure video-teleconference with Cheney on detainee policy to make sure no decisions were made without her input.

Just last week, Cheney showed up at a Republican senatorial luncheon to lobby lawmakers for a CIA exemption to an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The exemption would cover the CIA's covert "black sites" in several Eastern European democracies and other countries where key al Qaeda captives are being kept.

Cheney spokesman Steve Schmidt declined to comment on the vice president's interventions or to elaborate on his positions. "The vice president's views are certainly reflected in the administration's policy," he said.

Strict boundaries need to be in place with regards to our detainee policies. The Bush Administration, with the help of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, blurred the lines of acceptable interrogation techniques. This egregious move led to the incidents depicted in the Abu Ghraib photos and the Guantanamo reports (plus many more that are finally coming to the public's awareness).

The only silver lining to the torture-watch news has been the exposure of rifts within the government between the pro-torture and pro-humanity camps pitted against each other. I hope our collective conscience prevails and we stop the abuse, otherwise it is time to take to the streets.

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