Saturday, March 8, 2008

The US should not engage in torture

President George Bush is poised to veto legislation that would bar the CIA from using a number of harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.

Waterboarding simulates drowning, and has been soundly condemned by human rights groups. It is considered torture.

The President has said the bill would harm the government's ability to prevent future attacks.

But supporters of the bill, which still permits a number of interrogation techniques, contend that the legislation preserves the United States' right to collect critical intelligence while boosting the country's moral standing abroad.

The bill would limit the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual. It would bar the CIA from using waterboarding, sensory deprivation or other coercive methods to break a prisoner who refuses to answer questions. The military banned those practices in 2006. Yet the president wants the CIA to be able to use them

The bill was approved in the House in December and in the Senate last month.

I think this veto is shameful, as are these harsh interrogation techniques.

They are forms of torture.

Pax Christi USA has spoken out agaisnt these techniques. In a February 2006 statement ( it declared:

"There is no room for debate on where the social teachings of the Catholic Church lie on the issue of torture. As is noted in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, `International judicial instruments concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances.' In all cases, even those that involve the most serious crimes and offenses, the Catholic Church calls all governments to `strictly observe' the regulation against the use of torture in carrying out investigations.

"Pope John Paul II echoed this call when he decisively said that there is never any justification for torture, and that torture diminishes the souls of all those involved. `Christ’s disciple refuses every recourse to such methods, which nothing could justify and in which the dignity of (humanity) is as much debased in (the) torturer as in the torturer’s victim.'

"Torture has always been deemed abhorrent in this country, and has long been banned by our laws and treaties. Most of the interrogation techniques used today in the War on Terrorism clearly constitute torture and must cease at once."

I suggest we write to our Congressional representatives to push for an override.

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