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Just how long will Bush imprison and torture at will?



Date published: 2/20/2006

The president condemned himself on the Sunday morning program "Face the Nation," when he was recently interviewed by Bob Schieffer.

Is there anything the president cannot do when faced with an emergency?

"Torture," was George W. Bush's reply.

Schieffer went further with a quote by Hubert Humphrey to the effect that Americans are known everywhere for their respect for civil rights. Has this respect diminished?

Bush spoke about how the Abu Ghraib torture abuse was shameful and about how it did diminish America in the eyes of the world. He funneled all the torture crimes of his administration into Abu Ghraib, as if that were the only place torture occurred.

Bush did not accept responsibility for his policies, with the implications that led to Abu Ghraib--first, locking up prisoners of war indefinitely.

Since he declared a war on terror, prisoners taken are POWs. The president renamed them "enemy combatants" to deprive them of POW status. He may declare war, but not take prisoners of war.

The "enemy combatant" euphemism applies to the prison population held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere. Prisoners are held without legal counsel or the right to appear before a court of justice. They are held indefinitely without being charged.

I have heard Bush say in another context, "In this country one is innocent until proven guilty."

Bush signed the infamous "torture memo" written in 2002.

We have accepted this transparent strategy to deceive us and all the world so far. Prisoners have been denied communication with their families. Many are on hunger strikes and are force-fed.

Prisoners can be caused to "disappear" in secret. They can be interrogated without mercy.

As recently as 2005, Dick Cheney tried to amend Sen. John McCain's anti-torture bill to exempt the CIA. Bush wrote a "signing" statement to the bill, declaring that he is exempted from its provisions.

His declaration gives him authority above congressional law. His authority gives him the right to blame others for his misdeeds.

How long will this authority last?

Bettie Grey

Falmouth