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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Deny, Deny, Deny, Admit, Excuse

For the first four years of the Bush administration, the White House has repeatedly denied sending suspected terrorists abroad to be tortured. White House communications director Dan Bartlett explained a few days ago that " every step of the way, President Bush and his administration has made very clear that we abide by the laws of our land and the treaty obligations we have," Bartlett said. "We will not torture here in America, and we will not export torture. That is unacceptable to this president, and something that we will not tolerate."

Now, faced with the mounting evidence that this standard talking point is a boldfaced lie, the administration is hiding behind a vanguard of lawyers while lying to the American people. We can't trust a single word they say, and instead must rely on the foreign press and governments that actually oppose torture to keep us informed.

Two Egyptians living in Sweden, Mohammad Al-Zery and Ahmed Agiza, were arrested by Swedish police and brought to an airport. An executive jet was waiting with a crew of mysterious masked men.

"America security agents just took over," says Tomas Hammarberg, a former Swedish diplomat who pressed for and got an investigation into how the Egyptians disappeared.

"We know that they were badly treated on the spot, that scissors and knives were used to take off their clothes. And they were shackled. And some tranquilizers were put in the back of them, obviously in order to make them dizzy and fall asleep."

After years of turning a blind eye to the issue, the U.S. media has suddenly become galvanized by the overwhelming proof that the ostensible U.S. position is the exact opposite of what actually occurs. In an interview with a CIA offical, Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes speaks with CIA official Mike Scheuer:

They don't have the same legal system we have. But we know that going into it," says Scheuer. "And so the idea that we're gonna suddenly throw our hands up like Claude Raines in 'Casablanca' and say, 'I'm shocked that justice in Egypt isn't like it is in Milwaukee,' there's a certain disingenuousness to that."

"And one of the things that you know about justice in Egypt is that people get tortured," says Pelley.

"Well, it can be rough. I have to assume that that's the case," says Scheuer.

But doesn't that make the United States complicit in the torture?

"You'll have to ask the lawyers," says Scheuer.

We're a pro-torture country now. Why can't a president who "Says what he means and means what he says" admit it?

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