Timothy Kaldas Integrity, values don’t mix with torture

When George Bush ran for president in 2000, he promised to restore values and integrity to the White House. He would end the lies and be honest and straightforward with the American people. This pledge was the first of many lies that would follow. The most recent set of lies emanating from this administration have to do with torture.

President Bush recently announced that “we do not torture” in response to increasing concern and criticism over prisoner treatment. At the same time President Bush was informing us of America’s refusal to employ torture as a means of coercion, Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss were hard at work trying to convince the Senate that the CIA should be exempt from the ban on torture that the Senate recently passed 90-9.

For the right to torture, something we apparently don’t do, Bush is prepared to veto the entire Defense Department budget. All of this to make certain that the CIA retains the ability to do what is already illegal and is not done anyways: torture. Does this appear remotely problematic to anyone else?

President Bush has not restored integrity to the White House. Rather, he lies to the American people without any regard for the consequences. He doesn’t even lie well. The contradictory actions of this White House represent a certain degree of contempt for the American people and their right to the truth. It is difficult to comprehend what the administration is thinking in putting out these contradictory remarks.

After hearing Bush tell the nation and the world that “we do not torture,” I wondered who on earth would actually believe this. Who was he trying to convince? Most of the world already realizes the United States employs the use of torture. It’s been well-documented in the many recent prison scandals. Further, it is well known that the United States sends prisoners it wants tortured to other countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, to get the job done. It appears that the only people who might believe such absurd remarks are the American people who elected President Bush.

Apparently President Bush believes that the American people are stupid. How else could he rationalize having the White House put out such absurdly contradictory remarks? Only a sincere faith that a number of Americans would fall for it could justify it. This is the extent to which President Bush respects the American people.

I wonder what values has Bush restored to the White House. Certainly valuing the truth is out. Is valuing torture the replacement? President Bush has brought America the value of a practice that is universally condemned as inhumane.

Beyond these remarks being insulting, they’re dangerous. Currently the administration is correct in one thing: that we are fighting to win hearts and minds and if we fail in that objective no military action will be able to compensate for it. By taking this ridiculous position on torture, President Bush has further damaged America’s credibility abroad. We have provided even more propaganda to those who will recruit people with the intention to kill us.

After the Abu Ghraib scandal, the last thing the United States needs is to foster further doubts about its detention policies. At the moment, thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis are being detained because the coalition lacks the resources to properly investigate, review and release them. Now their families are watching President Bush fight for the right of the CIA to torture people, very possibly these very detainees. It has already happened in a number of instances.

Rather than fight the torture ban, President Bush should be fighting for it. The United States needs to restore its credibility if it hopes to have a chance in the battle for hearts and minds. Instead, Bush is battling to allow the CIA to employ “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Thank you, Mr. President, for fighting so hard to preserve the integrity of the White House.

-The writer is a senior majoring in Middle East studies.

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