No person of conscience can watch this without shame

04 Jun


This is Part One. Part Two is next week. Without hesitation I can now say that Rumsfeld and Cheney were/are among the most evil characters to have led the US (astray) in my lifetime, perhaps ever. They have fecklessly compromised what the USA, at its best, really does have to offer the world. They have knowingly embraced what they were commissioned to defend their country against.

Overstated? Go to the site linked to that picture and see for yourself. Go to the site linked below.


As a Christian, I commend An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Human Rights in an Age of Terror.

The abominable acts of 9/11, along with the continuing threat of terrorist attacks, create profound security challenges. However, these challenges must be met within a moral and legal framework consistent with our values and laws, among which is a commitment to human rights that we as evangelicals share with many others. In this light, we renounce the resort to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees, call for the extension of procedural protections and human rights to all detainees, seek clear government-wide embrace of the Geneva Conventions, including those articles banning torture and cruel treatment of prisoners, and urge the reversal of any U.S. government law, policy, or practice that violates the moral standards outlined in this declaration.

Amen, you might say. And, Mister Howard and Mister Downer and Mister Ruddock: exactly where do we stand? Do we “outsource”? Do we keep our hands clean?

Update 7 June

Legal Eagle has a long follow-up post Moral consistency, torture and the Left. I might add I don’t think I am being Anti-American in this entry or in any of the comments that follow, given that there are quite a few Americans who would agree with me.

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20 responses to “No person of conscience can watch this without shame

  1. Legal Eagle

    June 5, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Absolutely. Hear hear! What’s the point of trumpeting our values if we don’t actually uphold them?

    On the other hand, we have to be cognisant of authoritarian regimes where we can’t even see what kind of torture is going on.

  2. Kevin

    June 6, 2007 at 1:54 am

    Legal Eagle said:
    “In relation to the question of “what is torture”, clearly hanging people from beams by the arms, beating them, cutting them and the like to obtain confessions is torture.
    However, to my mind, there is no doubt that sensory deprivation, waterboarding, locking people in coffin-shaped boxes, making people stand hooded with arms outstretched for hours and the like is torture.”
    Heck, putting people in prison is torturous. Forcing anyone to do anything they don’t want to do is a form of torture. But it belittles the word torture when you say:
    – putting panties on a guy’s head is torture. (the USA did this)
    – gouging a man’s eyes out with a stick is torture. (the jihadis do this)
    These are clearly not equal tortures, yet the USA receives all of the protests. Have you gone to a peace rally recently where the message was ‘Down with Al Qaeda’? They are the bad guys after all…
    And I don’t care even a miniscule amount if these killers are made uncomfortable to aid in the extraction of info from them. I’m against doing it for no reason, but if lives will be saved, break out the waterboarding eq! They’re less than human to me.

    There is an unpleasant feeling of vengeance about the use of torture against Guantanamo detainees. Sure, most of them are probably horrible people who would have shed no tears if we were all blown up by terrorist bombs. But the important thing is to distinguish ourselves from these people by our humanity, not to stoop to their level.

    I spent a little time in Texas prisons (not as an inmate) and the things I saw there lead me to believe that the GTMO prisoners have it MUCH better than regular American prisoners do. Ex: some guy tried to go eat breakfast twice, which is apparently a big deal, so the officers stripped him down and made him stand naked in the courtyard, and it couldn’t have been over 30 degrees (zeroish C). It seemed pretty harsh, but I wonder if he ever did that again. Bet not :).
    So while I agree with you that we should not torture for no reason as the terrorists do, I’m not with you on the “…the important thing is to distinguish ourselves from these people by our humanity, not to stoop to their level” part. We aren’t even coming close to stooping to their level (unless you are willing to equate a nude pyramid of men with beheadings) and the actual ‘important thing’ in my view is that we beat these guys.

  3. Kevin

    June 6, 2007 at 2:05 am

    And another problem I see with protesting torture: It’s made tautology the lugubrious pecuniary jejune (of quotidian proportions) that forces us to expurgate the abstemious, yet abjurious moiety. And those evanescent diffidents inculcate to force their deleterious, abstemiously unctuous antebellums on us? Not on my watch, they don’t!

    (just kidding… those are just the words I don’t know in this list. Sounded pretty smart for a second though, didn’t I?)

  4. ninglun

    June 6, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Sadly, Kevin, all the things you mentioned that the “islamofascists” have done were also done by the Germans and Japanese in my lifetime, and by many others who were not even remotely Muslim. That’s why we now have international declarations on human rights and against torture which all our Australian governments have been bound by. It is for us to condemn all such acts whoever does them for whatever reasons, and it is also incumbent on us not to go there ourselves, but to totally respect all those international conventions, which lately the US government has failed to do.

    You may note I removed the “happy note” at the end of your comment, as I found it, and the site it referred to, simply insulting to good Muslim believers, and very poor Christianity too, I might add. It is difficult to imagine anything less Christ-like than the sentiments I read on that site — kind of reverse Jerry Falwell but reflecting a similar primitivism. Sorry.

    There are several very good Muslims among my regular readers and commenters, and even more who get to read this. My blog is linked, for example, to Blogger Indonesia, so I try to avoid egregious displays of intolerance such as I found on the site Kevin sent me to.

  5. Kevin

    June 6, 2007 at 10:16 am

    It strikes me as odd that you consider the death of those murderous thugs to be possibly insulting or somehow ‘bad news’ to good muslims, but it’s your blog to do with as you will.

    You might want to rephrase ‘egregious displays of ignorance’ though. There’s no lack of knowledge here. ‘Intolerance’ might work, but ‘ignorance’ is way off base.

    Done, with apologies. — ninglun

  6. ninglun

    June 6, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Justice done to murdering thugs does not offend me, especially if this follows judicial proceedings of a standard we would demand of any criminal trial, though Australia is a country that has not executed anyone since 1969, a fact which makes me proud of this country. What could be offensive are comments that appear at least to confuse Islam as a whole with what you and others, not quite satisfactorily, call Islamofascists. I am not a Muslim and my personal belief is that the Quran is just a book, albeit one in which there is much good, rather like the Bible. I do not go out of my way to insult the book, however, as I appreciate how it is valued by others. Similarly, I never use the name Allah (which is merely Arabic for “God”) disrespectfully either, neither do I say unnecessarily insulting things about the Prophet.

    If others choose to, that’s their call, but I don’t think it helps at all. The same applies to the virulent antisemitism you find in much Islamist literature, or to unnecessarily insulting remarks about Catholics, Mormons, or whoever. None of these considerations affects one’s ability to be critical, but they may affect the style one adopts — especially if one really would like others to consider one’s views.

    See also Renegade Eye: MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism, an old post of mine on Blogspot.

  7. Legal Eagle

    June 7, 2007 at 11:26 am


    Should just make it clear that I wasn’t implying you were “anti-American” – as you point out, many Americans agree with you. You are always fair and balanced.

    It’s when people have knee-jerk reactions and say Bush is as bad as Hussein that I get irritated. Bush IS bad, but as I’ve said in my post, despite its flaws, the US is not a totalitarian regime on a par with the old Iraq.

    LE 🙂

  8. Kevin

    June 8, 2007 at 3:59 am

    In the eyes of the left, I’m no doubt intolerant. But to quote Thomas Mann, “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” Of that crime, I’m innocent.

    Things I disagree with… abortion, homosexuality, bad manners, France, putting people on the dole, encouraging them to be a non-productive member of society… these are only things that I disagree with. They’re not evil, so I tolerate them.

    But some things… islamofascism, islamic supremacists, antisemetism, abuse of women… these are evil and must not be tolerated. To the point where it’s better to kill the supporters of these ideals to finally put an end to these horrors.

    I remain intolerant.

  9. ninglun

    June 8, 2007 at 9:41 am

    I agree with not tolerating such evils, but disagree that what could amount to endless killing is the answer. The more you kill the stronger those who remain may become. See also my post on Londonistan. But we will again have to agree to disagree, I suspect.

    Again, I really don’t think it has anything to do with whether I am left or right; in Australian terms I am really more a centrist than a leftist anyway.

  10. David Stanley

    June 8, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    As always, there is some degree of exaggeration on both sides.

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