Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"even his enemy": Glenn Greenwald and Thomas Paine gang up on torturers

If you are not already, please start keeping track of Glenn Greenwald, especially what he is writing on torture. And that's not just because he has some excellent quotes from Thomas Paine in today's column:
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
The executive is not invested with the power of deliberating whether it shall act or not; it has no discretionary authority in the case; for it can act no other thing than what the laws decree, and it is obliged to act conformably thereto. . . .
[both of these quotes are from Paine's Dissertations on First Principles of Government]
In yesterday's column Greenwald wrote about "What every American should be made to learn about the IG torture report." Among the things that Greenwald thinks we should all be made to learn are that American torturers used

(1) threats of execution

(2) threats against detainees families (including the threat of raping detainees wives in front of them and murdering their children)

(3) severe physical abuse

(4) the use of power tools in interrogations

(5) the deaths of dozens of detainees as a result of torture done by Americans.

Greenwald provides extensive excerpts from the Inspector General's report documenting all of the above (click here for a pdf of the IG report).

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