Friday, September 22, 2006

Being good while doing evil

Remember the good old days when people remembered that you can't be good if you do evil?

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was arrested by the US during a stop-over at JFK Airport on his way home from a holiday in Tunisia. Arar was, without evidence, shipped off to Syria to be tortured under a program known as 'extraordinary rendition'.

He explained what happened:

So, on the third day when they didn't find anything, third or fourth day, they -- in my view, they just wanted to please the Americans, and they had to find something on me. So, because I was accused of being an al-Qaeda member, which is nowadays synonymous with Afghanistan, they told me, "You've been to a training camp in Afghanistan." And I said, "No." And they started beating me. And I said -- well, I had no choice. I just wanted the beating to stop. I said, "Of course, I've been to Afghanistan." I was ready to confess to anything just to stop the torture.

He was held for over a year before seeing his family again.

After a two year enquiry, the Canadian government has declared Arar an innocent man, with the judge who led the enquiry blasting the US government for sending him to be tortured in Syria. He also criticised the faulty and misleading information given to the US by Canadian authorities.

With Arar in the news in the USA, the religious right is standing firm on their conviction that torture is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, don't actually call it torture -- even these moral weasels aren't so degenerate to come out and be honest about what they want. Instead, they mince words and talk about "alternative interrogation techniques", and pretend to be confused about what torture is. They've even suggested that Republican John McCain, who actually has been tortured while a prisoner of war, should tone down his opposition to the practice if he wants to win elections.

If torture was really acceptable, why be so shy about the fact that they use it? The Gestapo and the KGB was never shy about their use of torture.

Wisco from Griper Blade has this to say about those who have thrown their lot in with torturers:

Here's what I think of those who favor torture of terrorist suspects -- they are, to a man, cowards. They have no principles, no morals, only a concern for themselves and their safety. They are the same fools who'd throw out all of our rights to 'protect our freedom', while either forgetting or willfully ignoring the fact that, with every right we lose, we become less free. They don't stand for the principles of freedom and liberty -- no matter how easily those words spill out of them when you poke them. They'd rather live as prisoners than expose themselves to even the slightest risk of dying as free people.


They can argue that torture makes us safer, but how safe can you be said to be when your government can whisk you off to a secret prison for an indefinite period of abuse and human rights outrages? And do it without any trial or any appeal. Once you get your finger caught in that secret prison machine, you literally enter into a lawless system in which you have no rights at all. Think about it -- there is nothing to prevent this from happening to pretty much anyone. No safeguards, no oversight. How safe does that make you?

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