Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Torturing and Droning Are Not Two Cities . . .

One of my favorite jokes as a golfer is to deride myself, sometimes others, by stating that my target object thinks chipping and putting are two cities in China.  I currently try to avoid such pronouncements simply because my audience, the remaining members of the golf foursome I am playing with, apparently possess neither the wit or deep understanding of my mind necessary to consider my efforts to be funny as funny.  For those who don’t have the slightest idea what I’m writing about, let me just say that you have to be there.  Suffice it to say that my present purpose in interjecting humor into this writing is a perhaps lame attempt to soften what I have to say about America, our government, our founding principles and us.  Which is to say that T and D, torturing and droning, are not two cities in Pennsylvania, but two nefarious practices regularly conducted by our government in total violation of any sense of morality or humanity and reflect a total abandonment of the principles upon which this great nation was founded.
What triggers this writing is the recent publication of a non-partisan report characterizing the U.S. methods of detainee interrogation used after 9/11 as torture.  As reported in today’s New York Times,  “[T] he report found that those methods violated international legal obligations with “no firm or persuasive evidence” that they produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. . . . Reaching a stronger national consensus on the issue of torture is crucial because, as the report says, “as long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United states could again engage in torture.” The task force found that using torture — like waterboarding, slamming prisoners into walls, and chaining them in uncomfortable stress position for hours — had “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive.” And in engineering “enforced disappearances” and secret detentions, the United States violated its international treaty obligations. A detailed 22-page appendix cites dozens of legal cases in which the United States prosecuted similar treatment or denounced it as torture when carried out by other countries.”  The hunger strike of Guantanamo detainees illustrates just how current this situation is.
Although not mentioned in this report, I add droning to the mix.  The current use of drones to surreptitiously seek out and kill people based upon executive fiat (approval of the President) without more is a terrible and terrifying abandonment of the moral and judicious principles underlying our constitution.  We are a nation of laws, and both practices (torturing and droning) have been and are being done without the well-established safeguards against these third world dictator-like acts, Dick Cheney notwithstanding.   Although I respect and admire President Obama, I am horrified by his endorsement of these methods.  The ends do not justify the means.   There are constitutional safeguards built into our system, such as the separation of powers, which are disregarded on a daily basis. 
Torturing and droning are not cities anywhere in the world.  They are, however, current policies of our government.  There is nothing funny about it.
Just saying . . .

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