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News and Features
Defenders of torture dwell not only in the White House and Pentagon,
but in the halls of academia. When prominent law professors and
academics cite the fantastic "ticking-bomb theory," they not only
spread misinformation and foster a perpetual state of fear, but they
use their credentials to legitimize a culture of torture.
Military detainees have been subjected to starvation, sleep deprivation and now Metallica and Britney Spears. Blasted at high volume, torture music has become a weapon of war, used to destroy the minds of Muslim detainees. It's time for musicians to speak up.
The overlooked players in the torture scandal are the medical personnel
who supervise--and often participate in--acts of torture. Military
medical professionals have reportedly tailored torture sessions to the
personalities of detainees, at a time when their professional
conscience should have told them to take an ethical stand. Though
they're not the usual suspects, they should be investigated as
Americans wondered how Army Specialist Charles Graner could torture
detainees in the gruesome Abu Ghraib scandal. In war, people do things
that would otherwise be unthinkable. But this former corrections
officer with a record of spousal abuse has always been at war.
"Do what has to be done" is the motto of the investigative arm of the
US military. But when the understaffed institution regularly loses
evidence and delays autopsies, it does too little. When it attempts to
protect evidence by detaining witnesses, it does too much. A look at
the inherently flawed investigations of detainees.
Despite what we know of history, it comes as a shock to discover that American leaders would open the way for torture of prisoners, that the President would fight legislation prohibiting inhumane treatment, and that Congress would barely react. A moment of historical reckoning has come: It is time to establish an independent commission with a special prosecutor and bring executors of abuse to justice.
A showdown looms in Congress this week over two competing measures
involving bedrock human and legal rights: John McCain's legislation to
ban all forms of torture and Lindsey Graham's proposal to strip federal courts of the power to hear habeas corpus
appeals by terror suspects.
America's Constitution: A Biography examines
America's obsession with the Constitution--its origins, evolution and
As the clock ticks down to former gang leader Stanley
Tookie Williiams's scheduled execution on December 13, football great
Jim Brown is helping lead the fight to convince Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.
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