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Thursday, Jul 13, 2006, 1:14 am

Bush and GOP Defining Torture Down

By Brian Zick
Kate Zernike for the NY Times reports on the Bush administration's continued push for torture of Gitmo detainees, with the help of some GOP members of Congress.

The Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v Rumsfeld that the administration must adhere to Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.”

However, "In testimony, administration lawyers said that the article was too vague, and that because failure to comply with Common Article Three was a violation of the War Crimes Act, applying the article to detainees could lead to American troops being charged with felony crimes for interrogation tactics that might be argued to be too harsh."

So instead of simply avoiding interrogation tactics that may "be too harsh" and which might possibly be construed as "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," Bush and his GOP water-carriers (like Lindsey Graham) prefer to pervert dictionary meaning and redefine such torturous behavior by law in a way that makes it sound like it ain't really torture, so they can continue to do it.
Senator Graham, who pointedly warned administration lawyers that the president would not win by fighting for his approach on trials, said in interviews that Common Article Three must be “reined in.” He said it would make death penalty crimes of current interrogation techniques, including keeping detainees awake and forcing them to sit in extremely hot or cold cells — methods he referred to as “things that are not torture but are aggressive.”

Although Senator Graham appears to be a stickler for precise definitions, having voiced his belief that vague terms need be "reined in," he notably eschews precision in his choice of the word "extremely" in his so-called "aggressive but not torture" description of forcing detainees "to sit in extremely hot or cold cells." Apparently the Senator would have people believe that 130 degrees extreme heat or 10 degrees below zero extreme cold are presumptively "not torture but aggressive."
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