February 15, 2008

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Command responsibility: Bush defends torture Link: Bush defends torture. In an interview with the BBC Thursday, Bush reiterated his threat to veto legislation approved the day before by the Senate banning the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture that the Bush administration has defined euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation methods.” The House of Representatives passed a similar bill last December. The Senate voted by 51-to-45 to approve the measure, falling far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. Five Republicans voted for the legislation. Neither of the Democratic presidential candidates—Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—voted, while Republican front-runner Senator John McCain voted against it. The legislation restricts the CIA and other intelligence agencies to the methods outlined in the Army Field Manual, which explicitly bars waterboarding, mock executions, forced nakedness and sexual assault, electric shock as well as sensory and sleep deprivation. These are all methods that have been utilized in the so-called “war on terror” in detention centers like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib as well as in secret CIA prisons scattered across the globe. Asked by Matt Frei of the BBC whether vetoing a law that proscribes waterboarding didn’t send “the wrong message” to the world, Bush was implacable. The legislation, he insisted, would result in “imposing a set of standards on our intelligence communities in terms of interrogating prisoners that our people will think will be ineffective.” Accusing critics of torture of abetting terrorism, he asked, “Which attack would they have hoped that we wouldn’t have prevented?” The...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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