Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Re: Boiling People Alive Courtesy Of George Bush And Company

May 3, 2005

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Re: Boiling People Alive Courtesy Of George Bush And Company.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.blogspot.com

Dear Colleagues:

Don Van Natta Jr. disclosed in a long article in The Times on Sunday that the US has been rendering prisoners to Uzbekistan. That’s right, Uzbekistan, a country most Americans have rarely, if ever, heard of. (It is a former Soviet Central Asian republic, and is one of the so-called stans, like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkestan, etc.) For the last few years, under George Bush, America has been cooperating with and using Uzbekistan although, both previously and still, the State Department has condemned the country in its (annual) human rights report as a place where torture is common, systematic, pervasive, etc. So Uzbekistan now joins other freedom-loving nations like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and George’s favorite stan, Pakistan, as a country that does some of our torture dirty work for us.

It is estimated that about 100 to 150 people have been rendered to these countries. How many have been sent to Uzbekistan in particular is not known, though incomplete records show that the Gulfstream and the Boeing 737 used by the CIA as its flying Batmobiles to render prisoners to other countries flew to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, at least seven times in 2002-2003, and a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan is quoted as saying that C.I.A. planes landed in Tashkent "‘usually twice a week.’"

The Uzbeks (why aren’t they the Uzbekis? or the Uzbekistanis?) are in some ways unique in the torture that they employ. Oh, they do the usual stuff like beating people and using electroshocks on genitals. They also rip out fingernails and toenails with pliers, which perhaps is not quite as common these days. But they also have some unique methods. One is asphyxiation with a gas mask. Another hasn’t been seen since the Middle Ages. They boil people. That’s right. They boil people. They boil people’s body parts, sometimes boil the whole body (one is "immersed in boiling water"), and sometimes boil people to death. It makes one long for the good old days of firing squads, doesn’t it?

George Bush was asked about the Uzbeks’ actions at a press conference recently. He responded with his usual de facto lie, "‘We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country.’" As even the timid, courageless American media have written, however, these so-called assurances, even if sought and given (which one might be somewhat dubious about), are meaningless, and are known to be meaningless. Everybody involved knows that torture will occur. Torture is the very reason for the rendition. And by the way, is Uzbekistan the home country of all the people rendered there? Were they all Uzbeks (or Uzbekis? or Uzbekistanis?)? Why am I dubious? And if they’re not, Bush’ statement was a de facto lie in this regard, too, since his claim implied that people are rendered to their own country, not some other country. Of course, as said before, George W. Bush, like Clinton and Johnson and Nixon, wouldn’t know the truth if he fell flat on his face over it. But, then, there is little chance of Bush falling flat on his face over the truth. He so rarely gets near it.

It has been said here before (e.g., in a lengthy post of March 17, 2005) that, due to the program of rendering people for torture, George W. Bush is guilty of a federal crime, of a crime under American statutory law. Bush (like Cheney and some others too) is guilty under Title 18 of the United States Code Section 2340A subsection (c) of the crime of conspiracy to commit torture, a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment, a crime which is obviously impeachable because it is a serious felony. Not a single person -- not one -- has ever written or emailed me to say that any part of this view is incorrect -- not even a highly accomplished, somewhat conservative genius who previously had told me that there was more to be said for rendition than I was acknowledging. But although not one single person has said the view expressed on March 17th is incorrect, neither the mainstream media nor Bush’s political opponents have had the courage to come out and say that the leaders of the American government have been committing serious, impeachable crimes.

As someone had the guts to say on a recently taped program that was shown on C-Span this weekend (was it Mark Danner?), torture is now American policy, and it was to protect the President against criminal charges that John Yoo and Jay Bybee wrote a now-withdrawn memo claiming that obvious torture supposedly was not torture. That memo also said, though this has been largely forgotten, that the President, i.e., George Bush, can, as Commander-in-Chief, order torture, and thereby override and be completely exempt from the laws of Congress -- a theory of the Commander-in-Chief power which represents the end of the rule of law in this country in favor of rule by presidential fiat. (Yoo is now a law professor at Berkeley and Bybee a federal appellate judge -- rewards accruing for providing legal cover for crime, as tax and security lawyers often do). And protecting Bush against criminal charges -- again providing legal cover for crime -- was the very reason behind Jack Goldsmith’s memo saying that transferring persons to other countries is lawful. (Goldsmith’s reward was a law professorship at Harvard.) So conservatives have had the misplaced courage to boldly try to provide cover for criminal action -- doing so precisely because it was feared that what Bush was doing was and is criminal -- but neither liberals nor the media have had the guts to say that criminal action is criminal. The liberals and the mainstream media, quite obviously, are afraid that they will be boiled in political hot water if they speak the obvious truth. Better, therefore, that we should send people to possibly be boiled in real hot water in Uzbekistan than that liberals or the media should be boiled in political hot water at home.

I think it was Shakespeare who said that "Cowards die a thousand deaths. The brave die but once." Just as cowards die a thousand deaths, so too there are a thousand reasons for cowardice -- as when The New York Times, during World War II, was too cowardly to print front page stories of the holocaust taking place under the Nazis because of fear that such publication would cause The Times to be seen as a Jewish newspaper, or as when liberals and the mainstream media decline to discuss the real truth about torture today because of fear of political hot water.*


*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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