Vice President of Torture

Your top advisor has broke his foot and is the number one candidate for indictment in a grand jury investigation, your boss's poll numbers (which are your responsibility) are below sea level, what's a Vice-President to do? Since there are no defenseless animals to kick around, why not come out firmly and bravely in support of torture?

The Senate and the House are in negotiations over the language of an amendment, passed 90-9 in the Senate that forbids the U.S. government from engaging in "torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." It requires that interrogators, including those from the army and the CIA, follow Army guidelines and protocol. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States.

But Dick Cheney is aggressively pushing to have the CIA exempted from the amendment.

''I don't see how you could possibly agree to legitimizing an agent of the government engaging in torture," John McCain, the Arizona Republican who pushed the bill through the Senate, said in a press conference.

Human Rights Watch says that if Congress passes an anti-torture law that exempts the CIA, the law would constitute, for the first time in U.S. history, clear authorization for the CIA to engage in abusive interrogations.

Since no one knows how many prisoners are held in secret detention centers abroad (find out more in Inter Press Service's latest article HERE), it's not clear how many people would be affected, and how many would be "disappeared," a euphamism we're used to associating with the likes of Pinochet. As the New York Times notes, CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees. Yet no CIA personnel have been held accountable for this record, and there has never been a public report on the agency's performance.

Whispers are coming left and right that Cheney will be tainted, if not outright indicted, by the grand jury this week. It's fitting that what might be one of his final acts is sinking so low as to become an open advocate for torture. I guess nobody loves you when you're down and out. And you don't have to love anybody back, either.


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