Friday, October 11, 2013

Bush and torture


In case anyone thinks I’ve somehow left my liberal roots altogether, let me assure you, I still lean left. I am a liberal in the truest sense of the word: I believe in liberty. I also believe in human dignity. In the past few years, Republicans seem to have forgotten that whatever scandals Obama is dealing with right now, be it Benghazi or the IRS, they are absolutely insignificant compared to the atrocities committed by George Bush. George Bush is the worst president in modern history, perhaps going back to James Buchanan. Put simply, if you think Obama should be impeached, then Bush should have been executed by firing squad… that’s just being consistent.

I’m not even going to talk about Bush lying us into the Iraq War under the pretense of weapons of mass destruction, (which he actually joked about once at a dinner by looking under a table and saying, “Nope, no weapons under there”) or his botched handling of Katrina (“You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie”), I’m just going to focus on how he turned America’s military and intelligence personnel into torturing thugs. As a follower of Jesus, I am also stunned at conservative Christians’ attempt at rehabilitating Bush’s legacy.

So, after 9/11, I actually thought Bush did a good job. I remember the scene where he was standing atop some rubble with the megaphone, saying, “We hear you” or something like that. I was actually impressed by him as a kid in middle school. However, it wasn’t long before I started hearing things about what we were doing as a country that made me a little confused. I heard about a place called Guantanamo Bay, and how “bad” people were being sent there. Well, they had to deserve going there, right?

In case you’ve been living in a bunker near the Earth's core for the last decade, Guantanamo Bay is a prison… where you’re sent without a trial. Did you catch that last bit? I hope so. We take it for granted now, but just think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. We’re assuming that someone is guilty. We don’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, we just guess. Does that terrify anyone else? That they’re statistically going after brown people doesn't reassure me.

So, we’re already off to a bad start. As if going there isn’t enough, the conditions once inside are even worse. According to the “torture memos” written by John Yoo and approved by Donald Rumsfeld, the “severe pain” prohibition of the U.N. Convention is only defined with "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions" and that prolonged mental impairment is only associated with a duration of “months or years.” So, if you’re beaten and don’t die, you’re good to go according to the Bush administration.

Of what we know of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” a.k.a. torture (of which is little due to the CIA destroying multiple interrogation videotapes in 2005), we know that there was little off the table. Torture included simulated drowning, use of attack dogs, being kept in a freezing room, being forced to lie in “stress positions” for over 40 hours, the use of insects, waterboarding, and sleep deprivation for days. Sadly, these are only the most well-reported incidents. Go to Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and you’ll see a whole hell of a lot worse.

In 2004, it came to light that horrible atrocities were being inflicted upon Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib detention facility. I don’t even know where to start with this one… American soldiers raped, and sometimes outright killed, Iraqi inmates. There were even incidents of soldiers pouring phosphoric acid onto the prisoners, or jumping on an already broken leg with such force that it would never heal properly. Abu Ghraib is best remembered by the public as the photograph of a prisoner with a hood on his head, standing on a box, thinking that if he moved an inch he’d be electrocuted. This was a dark stain on America, one that was spilled by George Bush.

The bottom line is that I refuse to believe that Abu Ghraib didn’t operate on a higher authority. All evidence pertaining to it has probably already been destroyed, but I know that Bush and Rumsfeld were behind this. Even if they somehow weren’t, the fact is that Bush created the template and atmosphere for this to occur in the first place. If he hadn’t used torture at all, and taken the moral high ground, this never would have happened. If you take away even one person’s dignity, then you’ve sold the pass to go all the way. There’s no limit to human depravity.

Don’t just get the government to torture suspected terrorists for you; ask yourself, could you, personally, rip the fingernails off another human being? Could you make him think he’s drowning to death via waterboarding? If you can’t, then please, choose to protect life both publically and privately. Also, if you’re a follower of Jesus, as I try to be, ask yourself if God would approve of torture.

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