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Cheney's Torture Policy Hughes' Worst Nightmare
by Common Dreams (Reposted)
Thursday Nov 10th, 2005 10:48 PM
As Karen Hughes goes about her urgent job of trying to repair America's disastrously debased image throughout the world - especially the Muslim world - she is being undercut by what has become her mission's worst nightmare. Dick Cheney.
The vice president's steely hand and hard-line handiwork are making it impossible for the Bush-Cheney administration's undersecretary of state for public diplomacy to succeed in her prime mission - winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world. It happens, of course, mainly behind closed doors in the West Wing, the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

The latest is something that once would have been unthinkable as a policy of the United States: The officially sanctioned abuse and inhumane treatment of some prisoners or suspects in the war on terror.

Cheney mounted a major effort to defeat an amendment to the defense spending bill that merely adopted as U.S. policy the standard Geneva Convention language prohibiting the treatment of terrorist prisoners or suspects in "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading" ways. The amendment was introduced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Navy hero in the Vietnam War who was among the many Americans who were beaten, abused and tortured as prisoners of war.

After the Senate adopted the amendment by a vote of 90-9, Cheney began urging Republican senators to at least add a loophole that would exempt operatives of the CIA from that policy. In other words, America's veep would have America tell the world that it is OK for certain U.S. personnel to treat prisoners and suspects in ways that are "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading" - as long as the U.S. personnel draw paychecks from the appropriate pocket of the U.S. bureaucracy. In this case, the CIA.

It is enough to sadden the hearts and boggle the minds of Americans who remember when the world recoiled at horrific tales of Japanese and German torture of prisoners in World War II - and North Vietnamese abuses of U.S. captives (including McCain) in the prison known as the Hanoi Hilton.

That is why prominent Republican senators recoiled from Cheney's effort. House Republican leaders bowed to the veep, delaying a vote on the bill, but advised the measure is likely to pass.

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