Azara Blog: Bush and torture by the American government

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Date published: 2005/11/07

The BBC says:

US President George W Bush has defended his government's treatment of detainees after a media allegation that the CIA ran secret jails in eastern Europe.

"We do not torture," Mr Bush told reporters during a visit to Panama.

He said enemies were plotting to hurt the US and his government would pursue them, but would do so "under the law".

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court has allowed a legal challenge to the Bush administration's use of military tribunals for foreign detainees.

The court will decide whether a former driver for Osama Bin Laden, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, can be tried for war crimes before military officers in Guantanamo Bay.

Correspondents say the case will be a major test of the US government's wartime powers.

The White House has not confirmed Washington Post claims that the CIA set up a covert prison network in eastern Europe and Asia to hold high-profile terror suspects following the 11 September 2001 attacks.

About 30 detainees, considered major terrorism suspects, were held at these "black sites", although the centres have now been closed, the paper reported.

On Sunday, the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture urged European officials to conduct high-level investigations into the allegations.

"We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice," Mr Bush said at a joint news conference with Panamanian President Martin Torrijos.

"Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," Mr Bush said.

"Any activity we conduct is within the law."

The Senate has passed legislation banning torture, but the Bush administration is seeking an exemption for the CIA spy agency.

Nixon: "I am not a crook". Clinton: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman". Bush: "We do not torture". Of course it depends what you mean by the words "crook", "sex" and "torture". Unfortunately the definitions proposed by the respective presidents are not those that 99.99% of humanity would accept as the usual meaning. And the proof is in the pudding. The Bush administration (in particular Cheney) wants to explicitly exempt the CIA from the proposed law banning torture. That tells you that the Bush administration definitely condones torture, and of course there is plenty of evidence that it conducts torture (either directly or indirectly via third parties). And you have to laugh at the statement that "any activity we conduct is within the law". Bush believes that anything he says *is* the law, so of course in his view of the world, torture approved by him is naturally within the law. And this is the government with which Mr Blair most wants to be associated. Mr Blair was happy to mouth off about remarks made by the Iranian president about wanting Israel wiped from the face of the earth, but funnily enough he doesn't condemn American torture.

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