NY Times Columnists on Bush and Torture

Paul Krugman reviews the Bush Administration’s use of torture and violations of the Geneva Convention, finding that torture does not provide useful information. He questions why the Bush Administration is so determined to torture people:

To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote in favor of the administration’s plan to, in effect, declare torture legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along, although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in opposing the administration.

Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and those opposing him on this issue is that he’s willing to do what’s necessary to protect America, and they aren’t. But the record says otherwise.

The fact is that for all his talk of being a “war president,” Mr. Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make sacrifices on behalf of the cause — even when, in the days after 9/11, the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. His admirers looked at him and thought they saw Winston Churchill. But instead of offering us blood, toil, tears and sweat, he told us to go shopping and promised tax cuts.

Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our principles and our self-respect.

Bob Herbert considers the repercussions of George Bush’s violations of the Geneva Convention should the Democrats win control of one House of Congress:

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Geneva Conventions apply to the prisoners seized by the administration, which means that abusing those prisoners — as so many have said for so long — is unquestionably illegal. And there is also the possibility that the Democrats, if they ever wake up, may take control of at least one house of Congress, giving them the kind of subpoena power and oversight that makes the administration tremble.

Bush, Cheney & Co. are desperately trying to hold together a house of cards that is ready to collapse because their strategy and tactics for fighting terrorism were slapped together with no real regard for the rule of law. What we’ve seen over the past few years has been a nightmare version of the United States. Torture? Secret prisons? Capital trials in which key evidence is kept from the accused? That’s the stuff of Kafka, not Madison and Jefferson.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    mbk says:

    This was a great piece–thanks for calling it to our attention.
    There are also some good letters in today’s NYT , responding to Sept 13 article on GOP (“how to win by losing”). See http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/opinion/l18gop.html and look for letters by David Scott (#2 and Mel Minthorn (#5).
    Scott sees a literary parallel in the current regime:”As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, “’They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made’.”

    Minthorn’s zinger : “, not once does [the author] mention what is best for the American people.[the] article outlines what is best for the Republican Party; and this, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with politics today: party over people.”

  2. 2
    janet says:

    As a daughter of a WW2 POW, I am so outraged that the president of our country is violating the Geneva conventions. Can he not imagine our own troops are protected by them? What is the matter with him?

  3. 3
    jan the enraged psychotherapist says:

    Is it clear to anyone yet that these people are narcissistic maniacs??? Seems only reasonable that they are plummeting toward a common goal which could only be the “rapture”, thats what the leader of Iran and Bush have in common, this scary belief system that leads all to the end of the world, sooner rather than later and I must say Bush is doing a great job making the world a place no one would want to live in. What could possibly be worse, and since the media is Bushes Bitch, and democracy is on its last legs in this country, what would it take to wake up America???? Listen to this sentence America, we are debating torture and have had no free elections, sound like a banana republic or what. I guess the lifespan for a democracy, as Jefferson warned, is very limited and based on its citizens willingness to stand up to oppression, hasnt happened recently (except for Olberman, Cindy Sheehan, and to a much lesser degree and recently John McCain.

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