Monday, May 30, 2005

Denying Torture

What if Hitler had countered a report that his government was torturing prisoners at concentration camps by pointing to his being a democratically-elected president (which is true)? What if Stalin had denied mass killings by declaring that his government was founded on popular desires of the Russian people?

When a government starts denying or proactively attacking accusations that it sponsors torture simply by declaring its values just, we should all be suspicious. The mantra of the Argentine military government of the late 1970s and early 1980s who sponsored that country's "Dirty War," a large-scale rounding up and torturing up of government-designated "subversives" centered around bringing "security" back to the country.

I bring all of this up because Dick Cheney has recently taken an Amnesty International Report on torture at Guantanamo Bay to task, saying: "for Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously." Cheney however does not offer any reason why torture should not be suspected, just that the U.S. cannot be called a violator of human rights.

Whether or not there is torture, and it seems there is, if not in Guantanamo, then in prisons in Iraq, denying it by saying a country cannot be responsible because it just can't is the classic way that human rights violators have denied their crimes. The administration's unwillingness to define terrorists and to use the word genearlly harkens back to Argentina's Dirty War and its broad definition of "subversives."

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