Monday, June 12, 2006

Torture and inhumane treatment have long been banned by U.S. treaty obligations, and are punishable by criminal statute. Recent developments, however, have created new uncertainties. By reaffirming the ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as well as torture, the McCain amendment, now signed into law, is a step in the right direction. Yet its implementation remains unclear.

The President's signing statement, which he issued when he signed the McCain Amendment into law, implies that the President does not believe he is bound by the amendment in his role as commander in chief. The possibility remains open that inhumane methods of interrogation will continue.

Furthermore, in a troubling development, for the first time in our nation's history, legislation has now been signed into law that effectively permits evidence obtained by torture to be used in a court of law. The military tribunals that are trying some terrorist suspects are now expressly permitted to consider information obtained under coercive interrogation techniques, including degrading and inhumane techniques and torture.

If these facts bother you, and you support this advertisement here (pdf), you might want to consider signing this statement of conscience.

Q: Aren't these the usual peacenik suspects?
A: Well, yes, many of them are, but some of them are not. But that's an unavoidable fact of political polarization -- just as criticizing Iran's human rights record, for example, and publicizing demonstrations there is mostly a matter of "neo-cons," so too protesting the use of torture in the war on terror will inevitably be mostly a matter of the left. Sometimes they're right, and this issue in my opinion is one of those times.

Q: Why should I support giving terrorists Miranda rights, free trials, and all that?
A: This statement carefully avoids any such fallacy that those captured in military conflicts have any civil rights under the US Constitution, or that those captured while engaging in unlawful combat have any claim to treatment as POWs. But all people have human rights, and not being tortured is one of them. And the American people have to set the limits for what they will allow their agents to do or not do to their country's enemies, real or merely suspected.

HT: verbum ipsum.