The New York Times | Editorial
Sunday 07 October 2007
Once upon a time, it was the
The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.
After the attacks of 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret. Some of their methods — simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress positions and isolation — had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations. The administration clearly knew this; the C.I.A. modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.
The White House could never acknowledge that. So its lawyers concocted documents that redefined “torture” to neatly exclude the things American jailers were doing and hid the papers from Congress and the American people. Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s loyal enabler, the Justice Department even declared that those acts did not violate the lower standard of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
That allowed the White House to claim that it did not condone torture, and to stampede Congress into passing laws that shielded the interrogators who abused prisoners, and the men who ordered them to do it, from any kind of legal accountability.
Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.
Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.
For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?
Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?
Truly banning the use of torture would not jeopardize American lives; experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confessions. Restoring the rule of law to Guantánamo Bay would not set terrorists free; the truly guilty could be tried for their crimes in a way that does not mock American values.
Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system. It also will add immeasurably to the risk facing any man or woman captured while wearing America’s uniform or serving in its intelligence forces.
This is an easy choice.
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2007 Australian Citizenship test
1. Do you understand the meaning, but are unable to explain the origin of, the term "died in the arse"?
2. What is a bloody little beauty??
3. Are these terms related: chuck a sickie; chuck a spaz; chuck a U-ey?
4. Explain the following passage: "In the arvo last Chrissy the relos rocked up for a barbie, some bevvies and a few snags. After a bit of a Bex and a lie down we opened the pressies, scoffed all the chockies, bickies and lollies. Then we drained a few tinnies and Mum did her block after Dad and Steve had a barney and a bit of biffo."
5. Macca, Chooka and Wanger are driving to Surfers in their Torana. If they are travelling at 100 km/h while listening to Barnsey, Farnsey and Acca Dacca, how many slabs will each person on average consume between flashing a brown eye and having a slash?
6. Complete the following sentences:
a) "If the van's rockin' don't bother ?
b) You're going home in the back of a ?
c) Fair crack of the ?
d) Fair suck of the ?
7. I've had a gutful and I can't be fagged. Discuss
8. Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of a wedgie?
9. Do you have a friend or relative who has a car in their front yard "up on blocks"? Is his name Bruce and does he have a wife called Cheryl?
10. Does your family regularly eat a dish involving mincemeat, cabbage, curry powder and a packet of chicken noodle soup called either chow mein, chop suey or kai see ming?
11. What are the ingredients in a rissole?
12. Demonstrate the correct procedure for eating a Tim Tam.
13. Do you have an Aunty Irene who smokes 30 cigarettes a day and sounds like a bloke?
14. In any two-hour period have you ever eaten three-bean salad, a chop and two serves of pav washed down with someone else's beer that has been flogged from a bath full of ice?
15. When you go to a bring- your-own-meat barbie can you eat other people's meat or are you only allowed to eat your own?
16. What purple root vegetable beginning with the letter "b" is required by law to be included in a hamburger with the lot?
17. Do you own or have you ever owned a lawn mower, a pair of thongs, an Esky or Ugg boots?
18. Is it possible to "prang a car" while doing "circle work"?
19. Who would you like to crack on to?
20. Who is the most Australian: Kevin "Bloody" Wilson, John "True Blue" Williamson, Kylie Minogue or Warnie?
21. Is there someone you are only mates with because they own a trailer or have a pool?
22. What does " sinkin ' piss at a mates joint and getten para " mean?