Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Torture in the News

Top Story

July 20. President Bush issues new Executive Order that continues the policy of allowing torture just so long as it's called something else in public (text); the White House issues a statement (text) that insists on the usefulness of torture, even though the White House also insists that al Qaida is growing; and a White House press conference on the EO follows (text) in which Senior Administration Officials demonstrate that it is indeed possible to speak for an entire half hour without actually saying anything. The civilized world recoils in horror. Two days later, National Intelligence czar Mike McConnell repeats the refrain on "Meet the Press": "I would not want a US citizen to go through [the approved interrogation techniques]. But it is not torture, and there would be no permanent damage to that citizen." A small percentage of the US public sputters in disheartened protest for approximately 98 seconds, after which business as usual resumes.

Other Stories

  • Torture in Uganda. Activists cite torture as the number one human rights abuse in Uganda. Report to be released next month. Majority of reported cases attributed to national security forces.
  • Tortured Confessions. The six medics, 5 Bulgarians and 1 Palestinian, released after a decade in Libyan prisons, reported that their "confessiona" of infecting Libyan children with HIV were made under torture. All six endured electric shock and beatings. There are also allegations of rape.
  • A World Without Torture. Yemen editor Yusra Al-Shathli opines that the "human soul is too precious and sensitive to be subjected to torture." A courageous stand, considering Yemen's torture record.
  • Madison, WI, Apparently Secedes from the US. The Madison Impeachment Coalition, obviously separating itself form the rest of the nation, protests state-sponsored torture.
  • Police Torture. Pakistan cops apparently tortured 5 boys to death. The lads, aged 7 to 15, had been picked up for petty theft. Most torture in the world is perpetrated against criminal suspects, not political prisoners.
  • Conservative Christians & Torture. Four months ago, the National Association of Evangelicals endorsed a statement calling for an end to torture. Religious columnist Peter Steinfels wonders why it's caused no buzz.
  • Force Feedings at Gitmo. Two Gitmo prisoners, Abdul Rahman Shalabi and Zaid Salim Zuhair Ahmed, continue their hunger strike, and are force-fed by US military.