There are some things too important to leave to the experts.

Politics is one. God is another.

Today we’e2’80’99re talking about politics, although since we’e2’80’99re also talking about ethics, some may glimpse God in the background.

Politics is the science of government, but at root the word polis just means a gathering of people, that is, a city. We are a community of people, and even under a tyranny, we choose how to govern ourselves. The citizens of any city choose whether or not to rise up against the rulers.

Three years ago, when the war was Afghanistan and Saddam was but a gleam in the administration’e2’80’99s eye, I remember opening my Time magazine and seeing a brief quote from some high ranking official to the effect that we were sending prisoners to others for interrogation, because they did it better.

I looked at that statement on the page, and thought, That’e2’80’99s it; NOW the country will rise in outrage. And when nothing happened, I thought, I must have mistaken the meaning behind that statement, because nobody would put up with that. In the end, I didn’e2’80’99t even tear out the page and stick it in my files, a thing I normally do, because it was so obviously a misunderstanding on my part.

And now we have an attorney general who espouses legalistic (note: not legal) methods of avoiding the Geneva convention.

And we have Jane Mayer writing in the New Yorker about ‘e2’80’9cOutsourcing Torture,’e2’80’9d concerning the government’e2’80’99s’e2’80’94OUR government’e2’80’99s, yours and mine–program of sending difficult prisoners to places like Egypt to have them tortured.

Three things come from a reading of this article. One, it doesn’e2’80’99t work: You can break a man, but when you do, he’e2’80’99s going to tell you anything, including nonsense. And there simply ain’e2’80’99t no magic truth-serum. Two, we’e2’80’99ve now guaranteed that these men are immune from any future non-military prosecution, since no court in the land will permit testimony based on torture. And three, the President of the United States looks to be setting himself up for prosecution as a war criminal by the international courts.

And we thought the Watergate trial was a big deal.

I wonder how long it will take until we do rise up in outrage? There will be some trigger, something that hits the country’e2’80’99s button like one particular murder of a pregnant woman gave us the Scott Peterson trial. I just hope it’e2’80’99s soon, not only because my son is getting geared up for deployment, but because I am tired of aching with shame over my country’e2’80’99s actions.

Great strength brings great responsibility; merely to be a bully is to be without honor.

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  1. Jamie on March 10, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    I must say that this post gave me alot to think about. Not becasue it was something new to me, I work for the goverment as an arabic translator, but because I can see how Americans cry-out against this. Now I agree, there are things that need to be changed with the current system of interrogation, BUT in cases of terror suspects, I think we are in the right to send them to other countries.

    as quoted from the Artical :
    “The lawyers classified these detainees not as civilians or prisoners of war’e2’80’94two categories of individuals protected by the Conventions’e2’80’94but as ‘e2’80’9cillegal enemy combatants.’e2’80’9d “

    This was 100% right on…with out this new category we would have to arrest and prosecute people with-in the US like we do every-day criminals. Would you like a suspected terrorist getting out of jail on bail? Or what if he.she was caught and tried in a state w/o the death penelty, a chance for them to walk free again?

    I know it may seem like the goverment is picking people at random, racial profiling, ect…but I do not belive this is true. They have evidance, I’m sure most of it is classifed, that is why we never hear of it.

    I guess what I am trying to say is maybe this is being made into to big of a thing, that’s all. I do not agree 100% with president Bush, I didn’t even vote for him, but I think he, and his admin, are just trying to do what they can.

    America is facing things we never had before, there is no rule book on how to deal with terrorist, I guess we are just doing a little trial and error.

    On a similar note, if anyone is really intrested in this, I have a book you should try : Chatter: Inside the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping By Patrick Radden Keefe….it’s a good read.

    I’m sure I made more then a few of you angry, feel free to send me some hate mail 😉


  2. Cornelia on March 10, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    Oh, read Friedrich Spee’s Cautio Criminalis, his brilliant polemic book on the witch trials. Not that I intend to compare terror suspects (or actual terrorists!) to the “witches” of the early modern era. But the atmosphere of that time, saturated with fear and hatred, panic and anger, seems similar to that of our days sometimes. And one wonders how far defensive measurements can be justified withouth losing one’s own moral and ethical integrity – and thus even one’s identity …

  3. RD1950 on March 11, 2005 at 1:36 am

    Outrage? yes, I too wonder why there is no outrage. We sit in our comfortable homes, watching ‘reality’ tv every night and pay lip-service to honor, death, starvation, crippling poverty, and the killing of the good and bad. We talk about Scott Peterson and the death of one young woman because she is pretty and pregnant. What do we do or say about the thousands who have been injured and killed in our name? Instead we have psuedo outrage over political hot potatoes–birth control (OH! please!!), people called illegeals (Please!), gun control (WHY??)–name another one. Where is the outrage?

  4. aeyager on March 12, 2005 at 7:55 am

    Cornelia is correct. Our current public atmosphere is full of fear and hatred, which is in part exacerbated by the government and the media. We have become a people afraid to speak out, afraid to step forward and demand that the way the “war on terror” is being conducted must change.

    Illegal enemy combatants? If a good look is taken at our Revolutionary War, we might realize Americans were illegal enemy combatants.

  5. Jamie on March 12, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    During the Rev. war we were illegal enemy combatants, and we were treated as such. This is not a new concept, it has just been given a name. During WWII we held Japanese-Americans in “holding” camps…we are doing the same to Arab-Americans..I am not saying it is right, I’m just saying, untill we come up with something better, we are sticking with what we know…that’s all.

  6. Elisa Nelson on March 14, 2005 at 4:11 am

    Thank you very much for your courageous post. I have never felt as ashamed to call myself an American as I do in these times. Religion was once called the great opiate. I think TV now holds that honor. Instead of paying attention to what our government is doing in our name, we are paying attention to who is being kicked off the island.

  7. Kathleen Lowe on March 19, 2005 at 12:04 am

    The argument that Jamie and the Administration puts forward that the prisoners being sent abroad for interrogation are not covered by the Geneva convention or American Law is disingenuous. The government has found a loophole to get what they want (the opportunity to torture people). Whether or not it is in a good cause is not the question. The moral (as opposed to the legal or political )question, is whether it is moral to torture people Those of us who are outraged believe that torture of anyone for any reason is unacceptable. That our government is doing it in our name for our (supposed) protection is sickening.

  8. Jamie on March 21, 2005 at 9:06 pm

    Just a quick aside…pls don’t group me in with this Administration…I do not agree with them on anything. I am a firm member of the DMC. I was just trying to explain where they are coming from, and to help people see that it is not as bad as the news media makes it out to be….and instead of sitting there talking about how wrong it is, why don’t you do something about it? If you ahve a better way of getting things done, or solving the terror problem, pls let me know and I will pass that info along. I dropped out of college after 9/11 to fight the war on terrorism,I joined the navy to fight the war on terrorism, I learned arabic to fight the war on terrorism…and yes I can now see that things are going wrong, I agree, but where do we go from here?

  9. Anonymous on March 22, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    judi said—–

    I am daily on a forum where our main point of interest is Ragdoll cats. I am very taken with it as it goes all around the world. We are all of different colors, religons, cultures, and opinions. Yet, we all get along due to our cats. Why can’t the world do this? It is too silly to have the world in such a bad place, when the people who make up the world can get along just fine, thank you. Makes me wonder about leaders and greed and ego!

  10. Henry on March 23, 2005 at 3:05 am

    I have a difficulty understanding anyone who is a USA citizen not understanding 911 and the war forced on us by an enemy that kills with no discrimination. They deserve to be sent back to their country of orgin for interrogation. The Terri Schiavo case must be excruiating pain for those citizens. Now that is torture.

  11. Anonymous on March 24, 2005 at 2:27 am

    Jamie seems to be conflating two issues — indefinite detention and extraordinary rendition — that apply to illegal enemy combatants. Keeping suspected terrorists off the streets, that’s what indefinite detention is. We don’t have to send them to other countries to be tortured to keep them off the streets.

    I am reading an excellent book — “War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges, that everyone should read, especially in these times. He talks about how small differences between groups are exaggerated, myths created and lies told in order to make a war acceptable to people.

  12. rjk on April 14, 2005 at 1:46 am

    Henry said…
    I have a difficulty understanding anyone who is a USA citizen not understanding 911 and the war forced on us by an enemy that kills with no discrimination. They deserve to be sent back to their country of orgin for interrogation.

    I have difficulty understanding anyone in the USA who thinks this way. Do you think we have never fought a nasty enemy before?
    Do you think we (The USA) have never done horrible things?

    And for Jamie, How Horrible to think that our government should actually follow the laws of our country! How terrible to think that the US should abide by international treaties!


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