Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Get used to torture

Imprisoned for life, without a trial? For centuries, this was the norm in many countries around the world, and is still in some places. However, the New World's America was blessed with a Constitution designed to prevent any such travesty from taking root on these shores. Yet every now and then a despot comes along, an Abraham Lincoln or a George W. Bush, who decides that, not only does his bountiful wisdom place him above all law, it also grants him the right to contrive his own laws.

Today, the major enablers of those who would deny due process to American citizens are the people who call themselves "conservative patriots." Jacob Hornberger offers some stark truths about such people in The Right to Torture Americans.


Conservatives are protesting a federal judge’s ruling that torture victim Jose Padilla’s civil lawsuit against former Justice Department attorney John Yoo be permitted to continue. The conservatives feel that Yoo, who authored some of the infamous torture memos for the Bush White House, should be immune from lawsuits from Americans who were tortured as a natural consequence of such memos.

Let’s sum up what conservatives (and neo-conservatives) are saying about the America in which we now live. They’re saying that the federal government now wields the power to torture Americans and that Americans had better get used to this new way of life. Any American who is tortured should forget about ever suing any federal official who either does the torturing or who authorizes or facilitates it.

At the same time, conservatives say that federal torturers should be immune from criminal liability for torturing Americans, no matter how many criminal laws against torture they violate. ...

What Jose Padilla’s lawsuit is exposing is the harsh truth about the country in which we now live. Padilla is an American citizen. He was tried and convicted in a federal district court of a federal criminal offense, to wit: terrorism, and he is now serving time in a federal penitentiary for that crime.

But prior to the time that Padilla was convicted, federal officials incarcerated him in a military dungeon run by the Pentagon, where he was held for years and intentionally denied a speedy trial and due process of law. U.S. officials made it clear that if they wanted, they could keep Padilla incarcerated for the rest of his life without a trial. ...

Padilla’s civil lawsuit is not just about him. It’s about what federal officials, including those in the Pentagon and the CIA, can now do to all Americans.

Read complete article here.

See these related articles by Jacob Hornberger:

Padilla’s Lawsuit against Yoo to Proceed

The Pentagon’s Power to Arrest, Torture, and Execute Americans

See also Glenn Greenwald's NPR's ombudsman: Why we bar the word "torture"

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