Monday, February 14, 2005

Re: Lying Accessories To Torture

February 14, 2005

Re: Lying Accessories To Torture
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

An article entitled Outsourcing Torture, by Jane Mayer, appears in the February 14th issue of The New Yorker. It was posted on-line on February 7th. The first sentence of the article says, "On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that ‘torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.’" (This sentence comports with a later statement by the Times on February 13th, in an article on a potential Congressional investigation of torture by the CIA, that "President Bush and his top aides have said repeatedly that the United States does not torture prisoners and does not hand them over to countries that torture them.")

Assuming that Ms. Mayer’s first sentence is accurate, much of the rest of her lengthy article shows that Bush was lying again when he said we do not turn over people to countries that will torture them. Ms. Mayer discusses in excruciating detail the American modus operandi of kidnappings and abduction for the purpose of secretly flying people to, and turning them over to, nations that will torture them to try to elicit information that we seek. Hers is probably the longest article to date on this subject. (The New Yorker, after all, is not known for short articles.) The story is horrifying. It is only the worse because some (many?) of the people who are tortured appear to be innocent. The story is, moreover, about what America is not supposed to be.

Bob Herbert of The Times got it right when he discussed Mayer’s article in a February 11th column in The Times, and asked, "How in the world did we become a country in which gays’ getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?" Herbert later continued, "Any government that commits, condones, promotes or fosters torture is a malignant force in the world. And those who refuse to raise their voices against something as clearly evil as torture are enablers, if not collaborators."

You know, there can be little doubt that lots of foreigners, and not a few Americans, consider this country to now be, as Herbert put it, "a malignant force in the world," a force that not only tortures, but kills tens or scores of thousands -- or in Viet Nam hundreds of thousands or millions -- and calls it collateral damage. And whether those who do not speak out against the torture "are enablers, if not collaborators," is a pretty question indeed. It is cut from the same cloth as the question of whether individual Germans bear responsibility for Germany’s war guilt and the holocaust. And, maybe even more to the point, when it comes to Americans in positions of power such as federal legislators, federal judges, high ranking military officers, and the powerful mainstream print and electronic media, the question of responsibility is cut from the same cloth as the issue of what responsibility is borne by Germans who were in positions of power, such as the military and judges.

Yet one does not hear the obvious. One does not hear, from legislators or the mainstream media, for example, calls for the impeachment of Bush and company, and for subsequent criminal trials of them. One does not hear this even though they are plainly guilty of crimes due to their knowledge of, and their tacit or express approval of, torture done by Americans, and at minimum are accessories to or aiders and abetters of torture done by other countries to which we have delivered people for the precise purpose of torture.

Not to mention, of course, that Bush deliberately lies about torture to the American people.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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