Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Senate 'rebels' honor U.S. heritage; Bush plan shames it

American history includes no evidence of any president or vice president promoting torture as a national policy.

So, the nation must wonder what possesses President Bush and Vice President Cheney to so stridently demand barbaric tools that have been denounced by civilized nations in the Geneva Conventions and are alien to humane policies governing U.S. wartime conduct since its founding?

In time, history will shame Bush and Cheney for their dark impulses, but just as vigorously honor a handful of Republican U.S. senators who've heroically arrayed themselves against chilling Bush-Cheney proposals.

Remember the names—Sens. John Warner, of Virginia, former Navy secretary and World War II veteran; John McCain, of Arizona, POW during Vietnam and third generation naval officer; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an Air Force lawyer; and Susan Collins of Maine.

Without their tenacious objections, President Bush would steamroll the Senate into legalizing the CIA to spirit away "suspects" to secret overseas prisons, torture them for the "right" answers, then charge them and others with evidence obtained through pain.

If that isn't offensive to the normal conscience, Bush and Cheney have a dagger for the heart of U.S. criminal law: They would deny defendants the right to face accusers and see evidence that could lead to the death penalty.

Bush and Cheney expect Republican senators to be supine and rubberstamp what is not only illicit under U.S. law but despicable in civilized societies.

The GOP rebels also argue that tampering with Geneva Conventions would jeopardize U.S. troops captured by terrorists.

Findings in Canada confirm perilous flaws in the Bush-Cheney plan: Computer engineer Maher Arar was wrongly kidnapped by the CIA as a terrorism suspect, flown to Syria and tortured for 10 months before being released as innocent.

Bush and Cheney are being condemned by an array of retired generals, not the least being former Joint Chiefs Chairman and Bush's former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who sees America's moral high ground crumbling in the iron fists of Bush and Cheney.

At least one active senior officer, Pentagon deputy chief of staff for intelligence Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, has courageously denounced the White House plan.

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices (and) would be of questionable credibility," Gen. Kimmons said.

How humiliating for Americans: Their president showboating at the United Nations in behalf of democracy abroad, but at home demanding authority to conduct brutal interrogations and secret kangaroo courts that Russia's tyrants pioneered in the unspeakably cruel Siberian gulags.

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