Saturday, October 02, 2004

Update on the Outsourcing of Torture

The Massachusetts liberal, Rep. Edward J. Markey, has taken a stand against some provisions of the proposed “9/11 Commission Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004,” (H.R. 10). These provisions would facilitate the deportation of persons to countries where they may be tortured. The New York Times Op-Ed article on the subject is on the Times' list of top e-mailed articles, which indicates that it has attracted a fair amount of attention. Discourse.net points out that this topic alone justifies voting against George W. Bush. Old Hickory provides a quote, from Seymour Hersh's Chain of Command, documenting that Bush stated:

We have a President who can stand aside as the dogs of war are turned loose on prisoners and then declare, as he did in June 2004, that "America stands against and will not tolerate torture. We will investigate and prosecute all acts of torture and undertake to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment in all territory under our jurisdiction" and that "freedom from torture is an inalienable human right."

Veiled for Allah, citing Body and Soul and Procrastination, amplifies concern over this issue, stating:

Didn't we learn anything after Abu Ghuraib? Is torture what America is going to stand for now? God help us.

I ran across this item on Crooked Timber, which references Obsidian Wings. Mark Kleinman added some commentary, pointing out the contradiction between what the President of the United States says his values are, and what his actions indicate these really are. (He said in the debate that he favors checks and balances, but he is tacitly supporting a law that removes checks and balances.) Wally Banks points out that the provisions have been opposed by Democrats, but have been kept alive by Republicans; the votes cleaving along Party lines. These bloggers have kindly compiled a list of prominent individuals and groups who oppose these provisions. The opposition includes the 9-11 Commission, the American Bar Association, and the the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Corpus Callosum has conducted its own survey, and would like to add the following to the list of those opposed to the outsourcing of torture:
  1. The Human Brain: "The human brain is opposed to the outsourcing of torture. Indeed, it is opposed to torture in all settings. The human brain exists for the purpose of advancing useful thought, coordinating processes essential for life, and for the rational propagation of the species. Torture interferes with these activities, and thus is not acceptable to the human brain."
  2. The Adrenal Glands: "We exist, in part, to help the body respond to stress. But there is a limit to what we can do. We only have so much cortisol and epinephrine, and when it is depleted, very bad things happen. Torture depletes the supply of these essential substances. For that reason, the adrenal glands are opposed to torture."
  3. The Heart: "The human heart is an important organ. Some would say that it is the most important organ. Some of this perceived importance is due to mythology and poetry and stuff like that, which may be discounted; but don't forget that the heart is responsible for providing oxygen to all of the tissues in the body. The heart has a difficult job. It must contract and expand in precise rhythm, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365.25 days a year. It never gets a break. Torture puts a strain on the heart, shortens it's mean time between failure, and sometimes causes it it stop suddenly, without warning. Therefore, the human heart is opposed to torture."
  4. The Skeleton: "The skeleton is adamantly opposed to all forms of torture. Speaking collectively for all the bones in the human body, the skeleton begs to be heard on this important issue. We know that we often are thought of as a symbol for death, but in fact, we are essential for life. We object mightily to fractures and dislocations. Not only do these conditions hurt like the Dickens, they make it hard for us to do our job. Remember, our job includes functions such as walking, talking, and holding hands. We give the face its shape, and protect the brain. We move in synchrony to expand and contract the lungs, which most people appreciate. Because torture often causes fractures and dislocations, the skeleton is opposed to torture."
  5. The Skin: "The skin is the largest organ. Although often it does not get much respect, the skin is necessary for life. Try living without it. The skin is necessary for regulation of temperature. It keeps bacteria out, and moisture in. The skin is what feels good when humans lay out in the sun. It is what attracts members of the complimentary sex. The skin has found that it cannot serve these functions adequately during and after torture. Therefore, the skin (with the help of the skeleton) takes a strong stand against all forms of torture.
This is just a sample of the opinions expressed in the survey. Other organs opposed to torture include the kidneys, the liver, and the genitals. No organ in the human body came out in favor of torture.