Friday, September 29, 2006

Are Americans unspeakably vile?... No, actually...

Liberty Cat asks this question in a recent blog post. And I must confess, on the face of a 65-34 vote in the US Senate and a 253-168 vote in the House of Representatives, one might easily draw that conclusion.

However, it is still the case that there are reasonable people on the other side of the pond, and this resolution, recently passed at the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee is proof of that...

The following Resolution, submitted by Democrats Abroad was adopted on August 19, 2006, by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), at a meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

Submitted by: Michael A. Ceurvorst, Chair, Democrats Abroad with twenty + co-sponsors including four DNC Vice-chairs, seven state chairs and dozens of others.

TEXT OF TORTURE RESOLUTION Resolution condemns any incident of abuse of prisoners or the use of torture by any agent or agency of the United States.

WHEREAS, torture violates the U.S. Constitution, statutes, and core American beliefs in the dignity and integrity of each person that have always been essential to our system of government and way of life; and
WHEREAS, torture also violates a fundamental prohibition of current international law and specifically the Geneva Conventions, and its breach is considered a crime of universal jurisdiction; and
WHEREAS, torture is not a partisan concern and constitutes a violation that all Americans should resolutely oppose in principle and in practice;
WHEREAS, rejecting torture re-affirms fundamental American beliefs in the essential dignity of each human being, provides common ground with current and aspiring democracies around the world, and undercuts terrorist recruitment by reaffirming American commitment to human rights; and
WHEREAS, a failure to take a stand against torture and its practice by any agent or agency of our United States of America can be seen to jeopardize our system of values and governance; and
WHEREAS, numerous credible allegations of torture by agents or agencies of the United States await adequate investigation to establish accountability;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hereby condemns any incident of abuse of prisoners or the use of torture by any agent or agency of the United States; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC reaffirms the importance of making human rights and the rule of law guiding forces for conduct by all agents and agencies of the government of the United States, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC calls on all Americans to demand accountability for those who have demonstrably engaged in torture and those whose policies condoned, allowed, or encouraged the practice of torture and violation of international conventions.

It's only a pity that a minority of Democratic Senators and Congressmen found it appropriate to vote against Party policy...


Liberal Neil said...

True - although the fact that a sizeable majority voted against Bush on this is a big leap forward from a couple of years ago.

istanbultory said...

The Dems will regain the House, make a few pick-ups in the Senate....but it's going to be President McCain in Jan. 2009.

LibertyCat said...

I wasn't accusing the Democrats of being unspeakably vile - I was more concerned about the American voter.

The vast majority of the US Congress don't face competitive elections in November - two thirds of the Senate aren't up for election at all, and most House members have gerrymandered safe seats.

To a first approximation, every Democrat with a competitive election coming up voted for torture. This is because they think (as do the Republican strategists that are planning to make torture an election issue) that voting against torture will hurt them at the ballot box.

If voting against torture is a serious negative at the ballot box, then the voters are unspeakably vile. Politicians who vote for torture are just doing their job, although you could make a decent case that this is the kind of occasion where "just doing your job" is no excuse.

Mark Valladares said...

Liberty Cat,

I suspect that it's all about 'energising the base'. It's actually easier to motivate people to come out and vote against something than it is to get them to come out and vote for something, especially in an era of soundbite politics.

Many Americans are convinced that miscarriages of justice don't happen to innocent people thus, if you're being tortured, you must have been guilty, which might explain the comparative acquiesence with Guantanamo Bay's Camp X-Ray.

Indeed, the Bush Administration are doing everything in their power to keep torture out of view from the American people, what with extraordinary rendition. It's also noticeable that, when detainees are found to be innocent, they are released somewhere far away, with no fanfare, and usually transferred in hoods and manacles - an odd way to treat the supposedly not-guilty.

But in a country where the right to bear arms is treated as sacred, where the death penalty is prevalent and to some extent unremarked upon, and where access to a broader world view is limited, to say the least, should we be surprised that an 'eye for an eye' sense of justice prevails?