Archive for November 12th, 2005

We Do Not Torture…..Much

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By LEONARD PITTS

Well, I guess that settles that.
“We do not torture,” President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.

“We do not torture,” said the president. And that’s that, right? I mean, if you can’t believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?

Bush spoke in Panama on the last day of a five-day swing through Latin America to promote free trade. He was addressing controversy over secret CIA prisons in foreign countries. America, Bush reminded us in case it had slipped our minds in the 20 minutes since he last reminded us, is at war.

Guess that would explain all the dead people. And yes, war is not a nice business under the best of circumstances. It is less so when you fight a stateless enemy that strikes from shadows.

But we’ve been at war before, nasty, brutish wars, one war with civilization itself on the line, yet somehow we always managed to be the good guy. That is not to say our soldiers and sailors and fliers were always good, immune from committing atrocities. It is not to say our officials were always good, untouched by dirty deeds done in clandestine ways. Finally, it is not to say our cause was always good, free from the taint of imperialism or expedience.

But we – the collective we, the official we, the face shown in light of day we – were the good guys.

It occurs to me that maybe I’ve larded that statement with so many caveats as to drain it of meaning. I’m not trying to be cute. Rather, I’m trying not to sound naive while at the same time getting at something important:

We were the nation of moral authority, the nation of moral high ground, the nation that lectured other nations about human rights. And you know what? People believed us. They rush to our shores because there is freedom here, yes; because there is opportunity here, yes; but also because we stood for something, which was more than the tin-pot tyrants who ran their countries could ever say.

What a difference a presidency makes. “We do not torture,” he says.

When I heard that, my first thought was a one-liner: he’s been torturing me for years. But you know, this just ain’t funny.

In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized, and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. We have imprisoned Muslims in America and refused to say if we had them, why we had them, or even to provide them attorneys. We have passed laws making it easier for government to snoop into what you read, who you talk to, where you go. We have equated dissent with lack of patriotism, disagreement with treason. And we have tortured.

Yes, Bush says we don’t do that kind of thing but, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, who you going to believe, him or your lying eyes?

We ignore our lying eyes, I think, because we are afraid, because we saw what happened Sept. 11 and we never want to see it again. I’d never suggest we ought not fear terrorism. But we should also fear the nation we are becoming in response. We should fear the fact that we have abrogated moral authority, retreated from moral high ground, become like those we once chastised.

“We do not torture,” says the president. I can remember when that went without saying.

reprinted from The Politics of a Rebel

Godzilla Croc Found in Argentina, Che

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BEIJING, Nov. 11 (Xinhuanet) — In the
Jurassic era when dinosaurs ruled the earth, a 13-foot monster crocodile
nicknamed "Godzilla" might be the king of sea, described scientists
Thursday.

Totally unique among marine crocodiles, "it is one of the most evolved members
of the crocodilian family and also one of the most bizarre," said Diego
Pol, a paleontologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, who served on the
research team.

Alerted by a group of farmers who stumbled across several fragments, a team of
paleontologists led by Zulma Gasparini of Argentina’s La Plata University collected
a skull and parts of a vertebrae of the animal in the Argentine province of Neuquen
in 1996.

from the Xinhua