Sunday, April 27, 2008

Torture on a sliding scale

For as much as they insist that they don't torture, the Bush administration has done its damnedest to readjust the definition of "torture" and the restrictions agreed to under the Geneva Convention.

Now, it's revealed, that the CIA has the right to torture under certain circumstances - to prevent a terrorist act. Since the Bush administration thinks terrorism can be anything from protesting the war to blowing up a humvee, it seems like the CIA can torture at will.

This latest argument is featured in Sunday's New York Times reporting on a letter of clarification by Brian A. Benczkowski, adeputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department in response to requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee, and in particular, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

According to Benczkowski, as cited by The Times:

“The fact that an act is undertaken to prevent a threatened terrorist attack, rather than for the purpose of humiliation or abuse, would be relevant to a reasonable observer in measuring the outrageousness of the act,”


“to rise to the level of an outrage” and thus be prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, conduct “must be so deplorable that the reasonable observer would recognize it as something that should be universally condemned.”

Just wonder who in the Bush administration that "reasonable observer" might be.

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