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The moral basis of our fight against terrorism

Former general and secretary of state Colin L. Powell stands up against Bush's proposal to authorize tougher interrogations of suspected terrorists:

And that is what Congress must not do, said Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state. "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Mr. Powell said in a letter to Senator John McCain of Arizona, one of the Republicans who differ with Mr. Bush's policies.

Personally, I don't mind the idea of torturing terrorists...if only I could trust the government to only torture real terrorists...who were given the due process of law...and tried and convicted of terrorism in a court of law... Yeah, right.



So, it's not on moral grounds that you object to torture?

And what about the fact (according to no less than the FBI) that information obtained through torture is unreliable?

Allowing this practice also opens our own soldiers and agents to similar treatment.

Torture is wrong.

Well, mostly I'm just being an ass. But I could give a shit. I guess I just like the idea of inflicting pain on people who inflict pain on others. I don't care about obtaining information, ha ha.

The main point is that I'm assuming most of the people at Guantanamo and in the secret prisons are not actual terrorists who have committed acts of terrorism. They're probably just flunkies who knew people who knew people who might be terrorists. And it's especially wrong to torture those guys, because they haven't been convicted (or even CHARGED!) of doing anything wrong...

So, Powell finally sees an error in the ways of the Bush Assministration. What took so long. This is almost as funny as John Kerry's comment the other day that he would kick the Swift Boat Vets' asses.


"Second-rate police work in the age of terror can result in the deaths of 3,000 people. It can also land an innocent man in a nightmare of torture and degradation. The RCMP's inexcusably shoddy performance on the Maher Arar file set in motion the inexorable chain of events that led Mr. Arar to 10 months and 10 days of imprisonment and torture in a grave-like Syrian jail cell."


I guess at the very least you have to give Canadian officials some credit for allowing a public inquiry. Hopefully, this story will get some attention in the US because it is very timely indeed!

I heard about this story on NPR this morning and just shook my head. This is what we, the AMERICAS, have come to...

Slippery. Slope.

This rare public inquiry has given us an opportunity to see just how weak the case for torture (as a source of potentially life saving "intelligence") really is.

Not only did Maher Arar reportedly provide a false confession while being tortured in Syria, but Bush's policies may actually discourage the sharing of information in the future.

Recommendations from the Arar inquiry:


"The RCMP should ensure that, whenever it provides information to other departments and agencies, whether foreign and domestic, it does so in accordance with clearly established policies respecting screening for relevance, reliability and accuracy and with relevant laws respecting personal information and human rights. The 9/11 Commission in the United States concluded that, after 9/11, the largest impediment to “a greater likelihood of connecting the dots is the human or systemic resistance to sharing information” and criticized the “need-to-know” principle on the basis that it assumes it is possible to know, in advance, who will need to use the information. Such a system implicitly assumes that the risk of inadvertent disclosure outweighs the benefits of wider sharing. Those Cold War assumptions are no longer appropriate.

... The RCMP and CSIS should review their policies governing the circumstances in which they supply information to foreign governments with questionable human rights records. Information should never be provided to a foreign country where there is a credible risk that it will cause or contribute to the use of torture. Policies should include specific directions aimed at eliminating any possible Canadian complicity in torture, avoiding the risk of other human rights abuses and ensuring accountability."

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