Thursday, September 21, 2006

Administration wants Congress to reinvent the wheel

Just in case you don't receive weekly and sometimes even daily updates from Amnesty International USA, the Friends Committee for National Legislation, or the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, I'd like to urge you to call your senators and, in turn, urge them to oppose the White House’s proposed “Military Commissions Act of 2006,” which would "clarify" Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, dangerously redefining the U.S. standard ofconduct toward detainees and establshing an "alternate" procedure for interrogations.

Here is an excerpt from Article 3, which does not seem at all lacking in clarity:

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Here are some of the things that the administration would like the CIA to have in its repertoire of "alternative" methods:

The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

The Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal

Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout
the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
See: CIA's Harsh Interrogtion Techniques Described...from November 2005 -- Where's the outrage????

BTW: Rumor has it that each senator who votes for the White House bill will receive 79 iron virgins for his own...uh... discretionary use. (Not sure what's being promised to the lady senators.)

Even the alternative bill, sponsored by Senators McCain, Graham, and Warner, is not much better. It places in jeopardy the rights detainees gained in the Hamdan vs Rumsfeld decision. I was very heartened when I found out that one of my senators has serious reservations about this bill as well.

Ah, you say, can't be! We're One Nation under God...

Well, think again ... but not too long. Hurry to the phone and call your senators or fax them a message tomorrow at the latest. Tell him/her not to vote for any piece of legislation that fails to ensure the humane treatment of detainees and their right to a fair trial!

(Don't know your senators' contact info? Click here.)

NEWS!!! Just found out about the Specter-Levin Amendment on habeas corpus -- This amendment --to be attached to either of the above bills when presented before the Senate-- will preserve the right of detainees to challenge their detention in court, thus upholding the Hamdan vs Rumsfeld decision and everyone's SACRED right to the writ of habeas corpus. More info at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Call your senator and tell him/her to support the amendment!

Way to go Senators Specter and Levin!!

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