Friday, September 29, 2006

Is America really unspeakbly vile?

The US Congress has just approved the "compromise" bill legalising the mistreatment of detainees by the CIA.

For the record, this bill
  • legalizes certain forms of torture, including sleep deprivation, the use of stress positions, and induced hypothermia
  • strips the right to habeas corpus from non-US citizens, including legal immigrants in the US
  • allows alleged terrorists to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony
  • makes it impossible for any Court to review this

  • I am not an expert, but the New York Times thinks this is up there with the Alien and Sedition acts as the worst law ever passed by Congress.

    I can hardly think for outrage. Not torturing people is part of what it means to be a civilised society. Habeas Corpus has been a basic guarantee of liberty since the 1620's. As a sane person involved in student politics, I have spent much of the last few years defending America against lefties. I'm not sure I will be able to do that now.

    If the Democratic Representatives and Senators who voted "Aye" (and most of the Democrats facing tough re-election battles did vote "Aye") are right, the American voters are ready to punish their representatives at the ballot box for voting against torture. In other words, the conventional wisdom of the American political establishment (on both sides of the aisle) is that the American people are unspeakably vile. I can't help but worry that they might be right.

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    • At 7:31 pm , Blogger Bishop Hill said...

      Does this mean that the British people are unspeakably vile because of the Labour government's transgressions against civil liberties?

    • At 11:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

      Just the ones that support torture, terrorism and other acts of depravity.
      Every country has its share of nutters, criminals and idiots. Every so often they find a common voice and mayhem ensues. It is just Iran's, America and Britain's turn at the moment. It will soon pass and be forgotton and then it will be somewhere else's turn.

    • At 1:53 pm , Blogger LibertyCat said...

      Bishop Hill,

      Firstly, legalised torture goes a lot further than what New Labour have done. I would say that torture is unspeakably vile, wherase 90-day detention without trial is merely vile.

      Secondly, nobody thinks New Labour was, or will be, re-elected because of (rather than in spite of) their transgressions against civil liberties in the war on terror. Labour did not make 90-day detention an election issue, and had they tried to do so it probably would not have benefitted them.

      [I agree with you that the British people have been egging Labour along when it comes to attacks on civil liberties in the name of cracking down on anti-social behaviour, and that this reflects badly on the British people]

      In America, the Republicans are planning to make torture an election issue, and the sane wing of the Democrats are afraid that it will work.

    • At 6:11 pm , Blogger British National Party member said...

      Oh, America has done the right thing. Time to stop fannying about.

      And about a civilised society... i thought an overriding definition of one would include not running a reasonable risk of being assaulted when you leave the house. But then being right wing, i would.


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