Block Of CIA Appointment Win In Human Rights Wars

One of the more grotesque actions of this administration has been to take the definition of terrorism, and whittle away at it until they could come up with something they could use, thereby establishing largely symbolic legal statutes that still allow coerced investigations to stand unchallenged by the law.

What is lost in this, however, is not only an honest approach to our own national ideals, but also a little bit of our soul.

Call me silly, but I kinda thought it was an American principle to lead by example, particularly in the realm of things like human rights.  The simple logic being, we have no reason to call anyone, from North Korea to Saddam Hussein, out for their maltreatment of people if we ourselves do not uphold the highest standard possible.

Indeed, not only is exemplifying excellence in humane treatment good foreign policy, it’s the right thing to do.  It is principly, and morally right to, when you detain them, treat them with the utmost respect until they are given the ability to defend themselves in the milieu of a fair trial, and if they should be found guilty, be punished humanely, and in keeping of decency and the law.

That’s what a moral and good nation is supposed to do.  Torture should not even be quibbled with.  The mere concept of torture should, in the minds of decent people, prompt disgust and shame.

Nor is this way of thinking particularly old.  Almost two and a half THOUSAND years ago, a Chinese Commander by the name of Sun Tzu penned what would become canonized text for the making of war, a thirteen chapter manual entitled The Art of War.  In invading and occupying other powers, Tzu advises that the occupier should treat the invaded with the utmost respect as though these people were the people of the occupier.  In this way, when you invade a land, that land’s people becomes your people.

Unfortunately, our current administration has been none too eager to test this idea out, and on top of utterly failing to provide peace and security for those people whose country we did invade, we detain massive quantities of these people and engaged in “extreme interrogation” techniques.

Which, in case you missed it, is another word for torture.

You see, Bush & Co., possibly infatuated with shows like 24, and The Shield, have somehow gotten several things in their head.

-Torture works (It doesn’t)

-Torture isn’t a complete and total abomination in the face of true American values (it is)

-And most importantly, that by merely redefining the word torture, things that don’t fit inside that narrow definition are, point of fact, not torture.

This last point is not only not true, but so morally skewed, that actually convincing the population the American people of its non-existent virtues borders on evil.

Aside from the words used to describe it, nothing else changes.  Long term physical and psychological damage is still inflicted upon the individual, American principles are still trampled upon, and do you really think the friends and families, and the victims themselves for that matter, really give much of a damn what we call it?

Probably not.

So, the Senate asking that John Rizzo’s appointment as General Counsel for the CIA be pulled on the basis that they do not intend to even allow him to get out of committee is a small, but good step in the right direction.

Rizzo, a career CIA lawyer, has drawn fire from Democrats and human rights groups because of his support for Bush administration legal doctrines permitting “enhanced interrogation” of terrorism detainees in CIA custody.

Two U.S. officials familiar with the committee’s decision said the request for Rizzo’s withdrawal has been conveyed to Gen. Michael Hayden, the CIA’s director. The officials, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the committee’s discussions, said lawmakers had hoped to avoid the formality of a negative vote on Rizzo’s nomination out of respect for his long service at the intelligence agency. Rizzo has served with the CIA since 1976 and acted as interim general counsel from 2001 to 2002 and from August 2004 to the present.

CIA officials declined comment on whether a formal request had been received, but a spokesman said Hayden continues to support Rizzo’s nomination. “Director Hayden believes Mr. Rizzo is a fine lawyer and is well-qualified for the post,” agency spokesman Mark Mansfield said. “This has been, and continues to be, his view.”

Of course the Hayden and the White House both still back their boy.  Why?  Because he’s more than ready to parrot their talking points, specifically the one that pulls the verbal hocus pocus with what torture is and isn’t:

Rizzo also said the CIA does not condone torture, and stressed that the agency’s actions must remain “in full compliance with the Constitution, U.S. law and U.S. obligations under international treaties.”

Keep in mind that this is according to the legally ninja’ed definition of torture which reads thusly, “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of body function, or even death,” which, I need not remind you, is already a subjective assessment and one that allows for still debilitating and agonizing treatment not to disclude SERE tactics.  For more on this stop by Michael Otterman’s blog, or read his book.

Meanwhile, while it appears that the White House and Hayden are going to continue to insist on Rizzo, it looks like at least in this one spot a stand will be made and he will not be confirmed.

Now it’s just a matter of working on everything else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook