New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Bush Should Not Promote Torture

editorial

Kampala — A United States Senate committee has rebelled against the Bush administration with 15 senators voting to block a bill that would allow military tribunals to accept evidence obtained through torture.

President Bush has been trying to push through the legislation to facilitate the trial of foreign terrorism suspects in Guantanamo Bay. He wants to bypass Section Three of the Geneva Convention that bans torture, violence and degrading treatment of prisoners.

Bush believes harsh treatment of detainees during interrogation should be defined as 'coercion' rather than 'torture'. He argues that it can provide valuable intelligence in the war on terror.

The senators have proposed a milder bill to cover the trials of the Guantanamo detainees but Bush says it will endanger the American people.

It is not just the senators who are disturbed by Bush's endorsement of torture. Even ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell has publicly written that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism" as a consequence of the proposed legislation.

The senators are right and President Bush is wrong.

Firstly, torture is not an efficient way of extracting information from suspects. With sufficient coercion, prisoners can be made to say anything. The United States defence department has already defined forms of torture such as 'waterboarding' as legitimate interrogation techniques. If torture is further legitimised, the USA risks undermining the reliability of its whole intelligence gathering process.

Secondly, there is Colin Powell's reason. Even if torture could generate reliable intelligence, it is counter-productive because it discredits the United States globally. The negative propaganda will encourage more impressionable young people to join terrorist organisations attacking the United States.

Thirdly, the continued use of torture makes a mockery of the American claim to global moral leadership. How can the American government advise other governments to halt the use of torture when it is itself promoting it?

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2006 New Vision. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.