The United States Does Torture En Masse

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As human rights groups urge Obama to close down Guantanamo and Obama repeatedly emphasizes: "I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture. And I am going to make sure that we don't torture," a pervasive pattern of torture continues to solidify and accelerate the normalcy of laws justifying torture in the service of empire.

In light of recent federal court decisions, Human Rights Watch stated: "[T]he courts have restored checks and balances to U.S. government detentions." However, the courts ability to rule on the Bush Regime's "unchecked authority to detain" does not ensure that the U.S. will stop the widespread use of torture as a tool for endless war.

Obama's nomination of Eric Holder as the first
Black Attorney General of the United States raises serious concerns the continuance of torture. In January 2002, Holder stated that individuals captured in the "war on terror" are not entitled to even the most minimum protections under the Geneva Conventions. However, Holder also argued that detainees should be treated humanely only because (1) doing so would be important in how U.S. captured troops were treated, and (2) it is in U.S. interests to do so to prevent further diminishing of its standing in the world. This position, also advocated by Rumsfeld and John Yoo, on behalf of the Bush Administration, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2006 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Holder's response to the decision shortly therafter in his speech to the American Constitution Society: "It was disgraceful that the Supreme Court had to order the President to treat detainees in accord with the Geneva Convention."

While it has been stated that Holder has spoken out on the Bush Administration's policy regarding torture, his positions have legitimized, defended, and served as an apologist for extremism in which human lives are expendable.

It is also important to consider how Holder's
position on indefinite detentions, one that espouses that individuals can be detained until the war is over "if that is ultimately what [the U.S.] wanted to do," has also been used to justify the use of John Yoo's definition of torture, whether the Executive Branch has declared a state of emergency or not. Holder asserted: "We had the Vietnam War, we had World War II, people were captured during the course of that war were not repatriated until the conclusion of the conflict. So, it's possible they could be there for an extended period of time," negligently and recklessly failing to mention the war crimes and crimes against humanity of U.S. torture in this historical trajectory that locates the U.S.'s position in the world today.

Legal authority states that every human being has the most basic right not to be tortured.  There are no exceptions under which this right against torture may be abrogated, no legal justification or evidence that validates the use of torture, and no moral debate that allows for the perpetuation of torture.  However, torture practices continue due to the purposeful misrepresentation of anti-torture policies and disregard for law that preserves fundamental human needs. At the heart of these torture violations are those in the highest positions of governmental power that have led the most egregious assaults on human lives during our times, in flagrant violation of legal principles enacted after World War II. This shift can be clearly seen in the U.S.'s institutionalizing the legality of torture, which has transformed a lawless state into, as Amy Bartholomew has stated, "an empire's law that is a form of unilaterally constituted and imposed illegitimate and unaccountable rule by a global power that attempts to perform the role of a global sovereign, declaring itself to be able to set the exception."

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This page contains a single entry published on November 24, 2008 3:18 PM.

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