Letters to the Editor

Torture denial

May 9, 2008

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To the editor:

On Friday, April 11, President Bush admitted to ABC News that he personally had approved the meetings at which top officials authorized interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists, specifically including intermittent drowning (the administration's preferred euphemism is "waterboarding") and other techniques.

Bush's admission received zero news coverage in the Lawrence Journal-World or any other mainstream newspaper. (The New York Times and a few other papers did carry editorials.) This silence is truly amazing. While American soldiers, like soldiers in most armies, have committed many isolated acts of torture over the years, it was the policy of American government ever since George Washington to oppose torture. Indeed, it was a hallmark of our democracy.

Pursuant to Bush's directive, the CIA tortured secretly kidnapped prisoners, recorded it on videotape, then destroyed the evidence and tried to cover it up. Few now deny these acts were felonies. They may also be war crimes, though some administration apologists disagree.

Legality aside, torture also advanced a criminally incompetent national security policy. Even more than the unjustifiable invasion of Iraq, American torture caused a majority of citizens in nearly every other country to turn against our otherwise legitimate struggle against al-Qaida.

Your April 19 Saturday Column was, therefore, jaw-droppingly stunning. The column tries to defend Bush against "raw and mean-spirited" attacks by simple whining and by disparaging the motives and character of Bush's critics, while ignoring their substantive criticisms. Most ironically, the columnist never mentions the torture admissions that his own newspaper had kept its readers from knowing about.

David Burress,
Lawrence

Comments

planetwax 7 years, 2 months ago

We need news like www.democracynow.org. See their video broadcast yesterday on torture.

Speakout 7 years, 2 months ago

So, Corrector, because Clinton did it, that makes it legal or right? Clinton had sex with a girl in the Oval Office, so does that set a precedence? Whenever something is done that is illegal, everything done in the same manner is too, no matter the perpetrator.Clinton was no angel, he wasn't even a good president. This is what scares me about his wife, but any president who allows torture is doing so against the Laws of both God and Man.We need to stop Al-Qaida but we won't as long as we and our "friends" continue to torture and destroy of the Arab world. Frankly, what Al-Qaida wants is for the West to get out of the Middle East and for the West, it is a good idea. If we were out of the Middle East, Al Qaida would have no beef against the USA. This is the best protection we can get-no one angry at us. Lets be smart, not aggressive and stay out of their politics..

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"Stop the torture. Just behead them all and be done with it."Are you going to volunteer to sop up the blood?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"The same Noam Chomsky who made in excess of a million dollars on DOD contracts?"Care to elaborate? I'm sure there are lots of poorly paid linguistics professors who would like to cash in, too.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

I'll grant you the point to an extent, Kevin, but to say that Burress is "lying" is unsupportable. At best, all you can say is that he must be unaware of Scheuer's statement. And it doesn't detract from the fact that opposition to torture has been a long-standing tenet of the American sense of civility-- it's even part of the Bill of Rights. Just because you, perhaps the Clinton Administration and most certainly BushCo want to go against that tradition doesn't mean everyone else wants this country to become the United States of Sadism.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

" My point was that Burress lied"I think this is a mischaracterization. Yes, there were renditions, and possibly even torture under Clinton, which was reprehensible enough. But to compare that to what BushCo did is even more inaccurate than Burress's statement."Clinton had sex with a girl in the Oval Office, so does that set a precedence?"If BushCo had expanded on this the way they did the Clinton rendition/torture policy, half of the White House would now be brothel.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"Gee, you think maybe 9/11 had something to do with that?"9/11 was the all-purpose excuse to do everything they intended to do, anyway.

jonas 7 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm. . . we'd gone a while before this, at least a week or so. Wonder what took so long this time?

Corey Williams 7 years, 2 months ago

"By "out of the middle east" I think we all know that Speakout means "let the Palestinians evict the Jews, and nobody gets hurt.""Because Israel is a weak country? And since they don't have any nuclear weapons, then they can't take care of themselves at all, can they?"To radical Islam, the USA, including you, is the Great Satan who needs to be destroyed: they want to kill you simply because you exist..."Of course it's that simple. Never mind all the meddling in the middle east since we found out about that black gold. Do they really hate us for our "freedoms"? "The only thing I regret is that Bush didn't subpeona more from the far-left blogosphere accounts and question or even waterboard at least a broad swath of the far-left kooks."They could have at least used it in more congressional hearings. Maybe we could have found out if Alito actually believed in the ideals of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, if Roberts had ever been a member of the Federalist Society, and, of course, if Mukasey thought waterboarding was torture. It would have made things go a lot quicker."I think a few Democrats should have been sent to Gitmo, esp. those congressmen who were paid by Saddam to visit Iraq prior to the invasion and then spread pro-Saddam propaganda while they were there."Wasn't that Rumsfeld handing over a pair of golden spurs to Saddam?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"The letter to the editor contains falsehoods."Upon re-reading this letter, I can see no falsehood. Burress never stated that Bush invented torture or rendition, merely that he approved an extensive program thereof.But we all know that for you, Kevin, Clinton is the root of all evil.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 2 months ago

Jrudyhawk:I think it helps if you understand a post before you start calling it ludicrous and ignorant.Radicalism is easily defeated by taking about a quarter of the money that bush and company are funneling to the "defense" industry, and spending it to better the lives of the poor, uneducated and desperate men and women who are recruited to extremism and radicalism by their "lot in life." Fat, satisfied people are not radicals. To wit, the vast majority of "citizens" in this country who have had Constitutional rights stolen from them during the last 8 years.We should stop invading other countries and stop supporting dictators who abuse their people. There are many more ways, I am sure, but it is too early to go on forever. Suffice it to say we should again act as Americans and in keeping with the ideals upon which this country was founded. Our Constitution, after all, is more than just a "god-damned piece of paper." Cleansing this country of the abuses of the bush administration would be another good way to defeat radicalism.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 2 months ago

"Direct your outrage at the bombers, the mullahs who incite them, and the sheiks who fund them."No, it is directed at the traitor who would have us become them. "They practice racism and religious fanatacism at its most extreme, proclaiming hypocritically the West is evil and morally corrupt."And yet, in our effort to combat the fanaticism, we are. An instructive example to consider: is the proper response to the Phelp cult to get out on every streetcorner and beat them at their own outrageous activities? Or are we better because we behave in a civil manner and instead simply marginalize them? "Yet the reward they seek by killing themselves and innocents is a harem of virgins."Instead of war profiteering.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 2 months ago

Far be it for me to interrupt your nose picking. Please do continue, you just might not want to dig so deep. The brain damage you are doing is pretty obvious. Seriously, such simple minded thinking has done great harm to our country during the last 8 years. Please try to learn a thing or two & quit accepting everything rush limpbrain and the republictraitors feed you. No one would need to occupy Arab lands in order to influence the society there. Take a look at the example of China, or Russia. Thoughtful administrations in the past have followed policies that resulted in peaceful and meaningful change to these societies and have, so far, averted the sorts of poverty and desperation that is bred in the Middle East as a result of our foolish President's policies. Behaving responsibly, humanely and with humility again while on the world stage will certainly help to reduce the level of radicalism directed against our country. A regime run by and for the military/industrial complex and the oil industry has proven to be disasterous. I can think of no better response to the last 8 years than to flush every republican out of office by voting a straight Democrat ticket, and get some people in office who can cleanse our country of the Constitution-ignoring, corporate apologists that have been there for so long.

BorderRat 7 years, 2 months ago

Stop the torture. Just behead them all and be done with it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"I realize it's only noon, but that may go down as the most ignorant statement of the day."We have confidence in your ability to top it, Kevin.

oldvet 7 years, 2 months ago

"If we were out of the Middle East, Al Qaida would have no beef against the USA. "The winner of the "Naivete of the Day" award...To radical Islam, the USA, including you, is the Great Satan who needs to be destroyed... they want to kill you simply because you exist... you can back out of everything all the way to your own little shell and they will still want to kill you... do you believe that if the USA abandoned all interests and presence in the Middle East, that the AQ boys would spend their days sitting in the coffee houses between prayer sessions, yucking it up with memories of the good old days? That belief would earn you first runner-up...

Kenneth (Uncle of "KIA" Iraq:) MacKenzie (Kristian Menchaca) 7 years, 2 months ago

Dear BARAK OBAMA, Ladies, & Gentlemen: This is not a "confidential letter." I want the world to be informed! The services of a lawfirm are needed in litigating my "Geneva Convention & RICO Act Lawsuit," USDC H-08-60, S. Dist. Of Texas, in U.S. District Court. I, Kenneth MacKenzie, am the Uncle of PFC Kristian Vasquez Menchaca, who was barbarically tortured to death after capture in Yosifiya, Iraq, 2006, as consequence of being denied U.S. Fourteenth Amendment equal "Reward Life protection," equal to the "Reward Life protection" the U.S. provides to Terrorist enemies of the United States during wartime. Bush Administration U.S. Code Title 22, & Title 1, U.S. $25 Million Rewards on behalf of Terrorists are 500 times more than U.S. Code Title 22, & Title 1, U.S. "$50,000 'DEATH' Rewards" for captured U.S. Soldiers, Prisoners of War & as "comparitive defamation" of U.S. soldier "Prisoner Of War" life value after "surrender & capture" and are a violation of Geneva Conventions if "mutilation, torture, and murder" result as linked to said "REWARD - LIFE - VALUE - DEFAMATION." Current "U.S. $50,000 Rewards" are "U.S. $50,000 Death-Sentence Rewards" for Terrorist-captured U.S. Troops in Iraq in violation of Geneva Conventions (I, II, III, IV) of 1949, & Geneva Protocols of 1977. U.S. Sec. State Rice & U.S. Attorney General Gonzales assume American Soldiers are only worth bizarre "U.S. $50,000 Reward" & have denied U.S. soldiers equal constitutional protection of $25 Million Dollar Rewards, "EQUAL" to same $25 million dollar rewards they bestowed on Terrorists under U.S. Code, Title 22 and USC, Title 1, Sec.101, "Counterterrorism Fund," $700 Million appropriated by Congress! Gonzales-Rice paid $77 Million out of this fund & all 100% of Terrorists captured in Iraq have been remanded to U.S. custody, alive. U.S. "$50,000 'DEATH' Rewards" have resulted in torture death and murders of 100% of all terrorist-captured U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Reward money to save lives of each of remaining terrorist-captured U.S. Soldiers currently "Missing In Action" ("MIA") prisoners in Iraq may be donated by the public to: SEE: (1) State governor, Capitol City, Your state; or (2) C/O Judge Gray Miller, U.S. Court Case # H-08-60, U.S. Court House Houston, 515 Rusk Ave., Houston, Texas 77002, Phone: 713.250.5500, filed by Kenneth MacKenzie (Pro Se), Uncle of PFC Kristian Menchaca ; Or (3) you may donate life saving reward money to International Criminal Court Prosecutor's Case #OTP-CR-100/08 by referring U.S. Court Case H 08-60. Contact International Criminal Court at the Hague, Office of the Prosecutor, Post Office Box 19519, 2500 CM, The Hague, The Netherlands, email: otp.informationdesk@icc-cpi.int I'd like to see John McCain, Barak Obama, & Hillary Clinton explain regarding all this treacherous Reward issue and U.S. Executive Branch "Culture of Torture."Sincerely,Kenneth MacKenzie

Navin_R_Johnson 7 years, 2 months ago

bozo,i'm pretty sure gitmo is sunglasses, main-tai's and plasma screens compared to the gulag and siberia. just a hunch though.now quit clownin' around.

jgragg 7 years, 2 months ago

Our Armed Forces are not allowed to torture detainees. While on guard they give the detainees 3 meals a day and water and a bed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"I think a few Democrats should have been sent to Gitmo, esp."Any other Stalinist ideas up your sleeve, Kevin?

kugrad 7 years, 2 months ago

Great letter. In addition to the crimes mentioned, the Bush administration also places people into the hands of private contractors who then torture them. If Blackwater or another private mercenary force (the press prefers to call these soliders of fortune "security contractors") tortures the people, then Bush can claim, "The USA doesn't torture," and just leave out the fact that others do our torture by paid proxy. Furthermore, foreign governments in the mideast also assist in the detention and torture of suspects. Egypt, would be an example, but I'm sure there are more. We operate secret prisons, torture people, violate the Geneva convention, violate international law, then act as though we are the moral compass of the world. The US will participate in the Chinese Olympics. Why? Because we can't very well preach to the world about human rights abuses when we are among the top abusers.Stop torture. Prosecute those responsible.

Navin_R_Johnson 7 years, 2 months ago

personally I'm opposed to torture, but it's not my place to deny use of it to others...

tunahelper 7 years, 2 months ago

obama bin laden will be a MILLION times worst than President Bush!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

" Their 'lot' in life is due to the fact that their sheiks or emirs or whoever holds power hoards all profits from the oil we helped them discover and don't improve their peoples lives one iota."And one reason they are pissed off at us is because our government, because of the power and influence of oil corporations, props up these sheiks, emirs, etc.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

So you're saying Kevin is merely Khrushchev rather than Stalin?

jaycee 7 years, 2 months ago

It's amazing to me that these countries can behead our newspeople, kill our soldiers, drag them thru town showing off thier kill, but by golly, the USA had better not run water on our enemies face, because that's torture. You want torture, talk to John McCain and how the Vietnamese tied his arms behind his back and then tied his head between his ankles and left him for hours, only to return and do it all over again. Our soldiers are tortured, and our enemies get the red carpet treatment due to their religion, or whatever and we try to be their best friend. THEY ARE OUR ENEMY, regardless of where we have to fight them, the muslim extremist cannot win and Obama is their best chance.

JHOK32 7 years, 2 months ago

Stain: Great comment. I wonder how Bush would feel about his war if Jenna had her head blown off, or was missing her legs and arms. I wonder how happy the marriage ceremony would be if she rolled up in a wheelchair as a paraplegic? Of course Bush knows nothing of real war, having spent his "service" days partying and being awol while others were fighting in Vietnam. John Edwards got it right in his speech the other day...."there are two Americas, those with & those without." I wonder how Bush would feel if his wife or daughter was dying from cancer and could not get treatment because of no healthcare. Of course it's extremely difficult to see this side of America when you're pompous ass has been a spoiled rich kid all your life & daddy & friends bought you the whitehouse.

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