Saturday, January 12, 2008

“Torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants"

“Torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.” That sounds like something an enraged leftie would say, right? Arguing against detaining people as "suspected enemy combatants"?

Nope. It's the judgment of a U.S. court (via) -- not, mind you, a judgment that was used to criticize the U.S. for doing something which had torture as a "foreseeable consequence", but to argue that Donald Rumsfeld and others were immune from lawsuits because in ordering the torture of prisoners Rumsfeld was just doing his job. (But torture's illegal, you say? No problem -- "Criminal conduct is not per se outside the scope of employment.")

And that's not all. The court also dismissed the complaints of religious discrimination by the prisoners (who are UK citizens freed in 2004, suing for damages based on their treatment in detention) on the ground that they were not included in the "persons" under the relevant statute -- "effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law" as the plaintiffs' lawyers put it.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown -- a judge widely opposed for being a lunatic conservative -- criticized that part of her colleague's decision, saying that it
leaves us with the unfortunate and quite dubious distinction of being the only court to declare those held at Guantánamo are not ‘person[s].’ This is a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human.
Alleged, yes. How could anyone think that treating these people as less than human was what U.S. officials would do -- after all, they were just cleared on the grounds that the torture of the non-persons was, after all, "foreseeable".

This is an appeals court making the ruling -- but there is no earthly reason why the distinctions between the various branches of our government, and our complex judicial system, should be the concern of non-citizens. This was the U.S. government. So if I were the editor of a newspaper -- particularly a foreign newspaper, perhaps a country where some of our citizens had been kidnapped by the U.S. and held without trial in Guantánamo for years -- I would write the headline:

Detainee Torture "Foreseeable" Part of U.S. Official's Job, Court Holds

-- and, God help us, I would be telling nothing more than the simple truth.

Say it loud and say it proud: our government tortures people it considers less than human. Just another feather in an already well-feathered cap for Bush's America.

Update: Scott Horton discusses this decision here. (Via Chris Floyd.)

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