Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Stand Corrected

My father took exception to my calling Mr. Obama a dictator during a phone call on Sunday. He noted that Mr. Obama’s request for funding to shut down the Guantánamo prison was turned down almost unanimously. I had to read it for myself, and my search took me here. Sho nuff, Dad was right.

But any comfort I could take that Mr. Obama can still be overruled was dissolved by this:

The Guantanamo Bay facility has been sharply criticized because the vast majority of detainees have been held for years without being formally charged. Moreover, for some, the evidence of their wrongdoing is uncorroborated or was obtained by the use of harsh interrogation techniques and therefore inadmissible in civilian courts.

Let’s start with the word “harsh.” As a conservative writer pointed out when castigating Jim Wallis for calling Pol Pot “harsh,” this is a word for a high school principal who humiliates an errant student, not a torturer and murderer. If you think waterboarding and weeks of sleep deprivation is more like harsh than like murder, have a loved one do it to you and see how long you can stand it. I think I’d last about five seconds. Orwell was right: he who defines the terms dominates the argument, and when McClatchey calls our masters’ treatment of their prisoners “harsh,” they are attempting to legitimize it and vilify those who protest it.

Then there’s the holding for years without being formally charged on the basis of evidence extracted by torture. Now, I spent a short night in jail for hitchhiking on a freeway in 1973, and I couldn’t wait for my trial, if for no other reason than I was bored. What must it be like to spend years like that? And all because someone who was being tortured uttered your name to get someone to stop making him feel like he was drowning or so he could get some sleep. I’m reminded of Haralan Popov’s book Tortured for His Faith in the 1970s: this is antichrist at work.

“Inadmissible in civilian courts”: as bad as our court system is, we consider it among other things as proof that we are a just society. That evidence extracted by torture is inadmissible there is a statement that just people don’t torture.

Why would it take the $80 million the article mentions to close Guantánamo? As Ron Paul said about Iraq, “We just went in; we can just come out.” We could put all US personnel on planes and leave everything else to the prisoners to keep or sell to the Cubans as some kind of effort as restitution for their unlawful imprisonment. Including the guns and missiles, which, yes, might be used against innocent people. But they already are being used against innocent people. At least our tax money would no longer be subsidizing the injustice.

But no, when it comes to committing injustice, Congress is even willing to overrule Mr. Obama.

And not just Congress. Judging by what I hear his people say, Jesus wants his people to “fight the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” By that I assume he means he’d rather see innocent people over there die as collateral damage and go to hell than for innocent people over here to die and go to heaven. So much for the Great Commission.

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