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Defending Democracy With Tyranny

Is there hope for our country? For our democracy? For our freedom and civil liberties? I become more concerned about these issues daily, as the Bush administration does its best to destroy the foundations of our civilization and ruin any and all of our credibility throughout the world.

I am guessing I’ll be writing about these subjects often through the remaining 29 months of Bush’s reign of terror over the U.S., but what has me riled up today is the idea of using torture in the process of "defending freedom." I refer to the secret detainment facilities we operate somewhere in eastern Europe, as well as the torture in Guantanamo Bay and Abu-Gharib, and who knows where else.

Rolling Stone published an excellent article on the torture of a then 15 year old boy captured fighting for Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan shortly after he invasion of Afghanistan began. The boy was held until he was 16, where he could then be transferred to Gitmo on orders of George W. Bush, who unilaterally ruled that 16 year olds could be treated and tortured like adults.

This, despite treaties we’ve signed that consider 16 year olds to be children that are not subject to the same treatment as adults.

Now, Omar, the young man in question, was hell-bent on the destruction of the West, and was fighting to support the tyranny of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Because of that, he gets little or no sympathy from me, despite the fact that he was largely brainwashed by a father who urged Omar’s older brother to become a suicide bomber.


And, Omar killed U.S. servicemen who allegedly tried to get him and his fellow fighters to surrender.

Again, not a lot of sympathy from me.

But he has effectively been tortured for the last several years. Beatings, environmental distress, drugs, pain, massive psychological damage…The whole works from an administration that redefined torture to basically not cover anything that doesn’t induce organ failure or death so that they could torture the bad guys for information.

All so they can defend democracy and freedom.

My problem with this is that when we torture folks, no matter how rotten they are, we become the bad guys, and we become the force of tyranny. This is what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donal Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of the neocons in power have turned us into, a tyrannical force that can do anything it wants to whomever it wishes. Neither laws, nor treaties, nor our Constitution, nor even common decency will get in their way.

And for what? What vital intelligence did Omar or the other hundreds of detainees in Gitmo have to give about Osama bin Laden? Clearly not much, because Osama is still on the loose, and these men have been tortured for years now.

In my name. In your name. In the name of the United States of America. The land of the free. The home of the brave.

These people have been tortured in our name.

Remember the way we were taught how evil the Viet Cong were for torturing our soldiers? Or the Japanese in WWII? Do you remember how we were taught that the Nazis were evil for the torture and killings they performed on Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, gypsies, and other "undesirables?" Do you remember learning about the horrors of the Soviet Gulags? Those were the bad guys.

The Bush administration has made us into the bad guys in the eyes of not only the undeserving swept up into Gitmo (as opposed to the true Al-Qaeda members who made up the minority of those taken there), but in the eyes of the rest of the world. The Bush administration has told the world that liberty, freedom, justice, and the American way of life are nothing but a pack of lies.

Of course, the Bush administration has also told U.S. citizens that those things mean nothing inside the country, either, as they have wiretapped us without warrants, searched our library records without warrants, threatened with imprisonment librarians who told anyone that records were searched, and in many and sundry other ways curtailed our freedoms and civil liberties.

All so they can defend democracy and freedom.

Does this sound to you like we are free, or like we are the force of good?

The bottom line is that no one can defend democracy or freedom with the tools of tyranny. Once the external enemy is defeated, all we will have left is more tyranny, making us no better than the religious fundamentalist nut jobs trying to destroy us.

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