Mike Whitney: Cruel and Degrading Presidency

By Mike Whitney

Washington is a moral swamp. When the chief executive can stand at the presidential podium and make an unabashed appeal for torture, then the American dream is dead.

Bush hates America and only God knows why? He’s been buoyed-along his entire life on a raft of wealth and privilege; distancing himself from his endless failures, one after the other…flop, flop, flop. Still, President Codpiece wants more; another pound of flesh to inflate his battered, alcohol-saturated ego. He wants to snuff out anything that even vaguely resembles honor or decency or dignity so he can permeate the world with his own fiendish image beaming from TVs across the globe.

Who could ever have imagined the President of the United States making the case for torture like some flannel-mouth medicine man at a tent show?

“Where is your sense of decency, sir?”

The shame that Bush has brought on this country is nearly as great as the ignominy heaped on the nation by the Republican rubber-stamp congress. The House of Representatives is the real moral swamp. Not once, in 6 years have they stood up to Bush…not once!!! Meanwhile the country has trundled off to war on a “pack of lies”, the president has authorized unlimited spying on the American people, 300,000 mostly poor, black people were ethnically cleansed in New Orleans, and countless thousands of innocent Muslims have been kept in bondage in American gulags.

And don’t bother defending that phony McCain and his cadres of far-right toadies jousting with Bush on “secret evidence”. What a joke. McCain never saw a war he didn’t like. He’s chairman of the International Republican Party, a slick-sounding NGO that topples foreign governments (like Hugo Chavez) who don’t believe that every nickel of the world’s wealth should go to the upper 1%. Even his fight against “secret evidence” is pure fiction. If McCain “the maverick” wins, American-held prisoners will still not have the right to challenge their case in federal court or sue for damages in the case of unlawful arrest. McCain, Warner and Graham, have removed habeas corpus (the foundation of American jurisprudence dating back 800 years into English law) as a fundamental human right. The only rights that prisoners will have are the right to appear before 3 of Rumsfeld’s hand-picked stooges to plead for mercy. It is an utter travesty.

Republicans love to lavish praise on that inveterate racist Winston “bomb the niggers” Churchill. Here’s what Churchill said about habeas corpus: “The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.”

According to the Associated Press (AP) there are more than 14,000 of these unlucky souls in Bush’s gulags right now. That doesn’t include the tens of thousands in Iraqi concentration camps and detention facilities. Bush not only claims the right to hold them indefinitely, but wants the congress to endorse his right to torture them as he sees fit. This is the very definition of tyranny.

Here’s Bush defending torture in his September 6 speech:

“Captured terrorists have a unique knowledge about how terrorist networks operate…and knowledge of what plots are underway. (The ‘ticking time-bomb farce) Our security depends on getting this kind of information. (Like the Sept PDB “Bin Laden Planning on Striking in America”?) Many Al Qaida or Taliban fighters try to conceal their identities and withhold information that could save American lives. They have received training on how to resist interrogation. And, so, the CIA used an Alternate Set of Procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Dept of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively, and determined them to be lawful.”

Then why change the laws, George? No harm, no foul.

Bush wants to change the law because he KNOWS the “procedures” constitute torture; a violation of the War Crimes Act and the Geneva Conventions. His petition for torture goes far beyond a sadistic urge to inflict pain on other human beings. It is a frontal assault on the fundamental principles which underscore the Bill of Rights. It is an expression of the hatred he feels for our system, our laws, and our prevailing ethos. It is a way of forcibly removing any obstacles to absolute power.

The opponents of torture have mounted a flimsy, limp-wristed defense that torture produces unreliable information or that it may put our own soldiers at risk.

What gibberish! That’s the spineless equivocating of lawyers not humans.

We oppose torture because it is a moral evil; it makes no difference if you are religious or not.

There is no lower form of human activity than inflicting pain on another person. None. Even killing someone allows them to retain some trace of dignity; torture robs them even of that.

Anyone who thinks torture is “quaint” is unfit to lead; in fact, they are a cancer on society. Bush’s railing against the Geneva Conventions is the sign of a man who accepts no legal or ethical constraints on his behavior. It is a blanket defense of cruelty and an attack on our core principles as Americans. It is the language of a dictator whose sole aspiration is the expansion of his own despotic power.

Bush says that the wording of Geneva is “vague,” and that “outrages against human dignity” is hard to decipher. That is because he plans to push the limits of the law by exacting as much pain as possible from his victims. Geneva is not vague. It intentionally casts a broad net to discourage ANY harsh treatment of detainees in one’s charge. Its condemnation of the “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment of prisoners has never been challenged because it is a clear indictment any such punishment.

What is it that Bush does not understand about our laws and traditions? How can a man reach the pinnacle of power without the slightest resolve to defend even minimal standards of human decency?

“Inalienable rights” have no geographic boundary; they are the province of every man. Prisoners are no less entitled to human rights than anyone else. The president’s plea to repeal the Geneva Conventions is a portentous reminder of how “absolute power corrupts absolutely” and of how quickly America has slipped into the quicksand of moral depravity.

-Mike Whitney is a regular contributor to PalestineChronicle.com

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out