First Published in DelawareLiberal on December 13, 2014 by ProgressivePopulist
With the release of the long awaited report on the use of torture
during the Bush/Cheney reign of terror following 9-11, public statements
by current elected federal officials and many serving with Bush/Cheney,
the United States of America appears to have exempted itself from all
domestic and international law prohibiting torture.
The U.S. code
2340, together with numerous international conventions to which the U.S.
is a signatory, including those signed in 1948, 1977, 1990 and 1992,
specifically prohibits the use of carefully defined abuses to fellow
humans which clearly correspond to the abuses to prisoners held during
the Iraq/Af/Pak armed conflicts.
Some of these conventions define the abuses described as War Crimes, when practiced during the Iraq/Af/Pak armed conflicts.
it appears that our self-description as possessing "Exceptionalism"
compared to the other practitioners of torture we have prosecuted over
the decades exempts us from these same laws and conventions. Though
apparently American history of such events in which we participated such
as the Nuremberg Trials are no longer taught in many of our schools
speak volumes about how the nation felt about human rights abuses, many
who remember these trials will find the current exemption troubling.
generations likely will not see this contradiction or major change in
what we once believed differentiated us from many other less moral or
ethical societies, as we saw them. In a way, I guess it is more
egalitarian to see ourselves as no more committed to human rights than
any other peoples. Some may see the absence of an American
superiority complex as progress.
We likely will have to deal with
the example our government now sets for us ordinary citizens, some of
whom practice physical abuse, terror and violence against fellow
citizens. We've tried, convicted and incarcerated hundreds of thousands
of such abusers to remove them from society.
What remedies might
we seek in the future to protect ourselves from such people? Especially
since our exempted former leaders now are given prominent media
platforms to explain the rationale for their practice of torture.
exempted torturers explain their actions this way: "You have to
understand the tone and tenor of our society after suffering the horror
of the 9-11 attacks". "We were in crisis and the nation was looking to
us to find and stop the perpetrators from attacking us again".
perpetrators of human abuse and violence in America can now explain
that they were in a crisis situation caused by someone who posed a
threat to them and their well being and had no choice but to shoot, stab
or maim them.
They will explain that they deserve a break and
understanding of their dire situation just as our Bush/Cheney leaders
deserve exemption from the rules governing abuse of others.
Given that we consider ourselves a forgiving people, seems reasonable to me.