The great premise of a free press is that if you keep at it long enough, you really can expose a simple lie, repeated endlessly by government officials, including the president. The biggest lie – and the most appalling use of newspeak in a generation – is the mantra of Condi Rice and president Bush: “We do not torture.” It is hard to think of a graver issue on which a president should brazenly and consciously lie to his own people and to the world. But that is what he is still doing and what the secretary of state has been doing in Europe. Big news: no one in Europe believes her. The NYT elegantly unpacked the lie in a story today. Money quote:

As Europeans continue to investigate whether torture or detention of terrorism suspects took place on European soil, Ms. Rice assured Mrs. Merkel that “the United States does not condone torture.”

“It is against U.S. law to be involved in torture or conspiracy to commit torture,” Ms. Rice said. “And it is also against U.S. international obligations.”

But the American definition of torture is in some cases at variance with international conventions, and the administration has maintained in recent years that American law does not apply to prisoners held abroad.

In defending the practice of rendition, American officials have said that they obtain assurances from the third countries that prisoners will not be tortured, but that the United States is limited in its ability to enforce the promises.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s inspector general found last year that the some aspects of the agency’s treatment of terrorism detainees might constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as the international Convention Against Torture defines it. The United States is a signer of that convention, though with some reservations.

A legal opinion by the Justice Department, issued in August 2002, said interrogation methods just short of those that might cause pain comparable to “organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death” could be allowable without being considered torture.

The administration disavowed that classified legal opinion in the summer of 2004, after it was publicly disclosed. But a second legal opinion issued in December 2004, which defined torture more broadly, did not repudiate interrogation techniques that had been previously authorized. It remains unclear how many of those techniques are still in use by the C.I.A.

Just re-read those paragraphs. Your president is a repeated and unrepentant liar on the gravest moral issues now facing the country.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: