The Bush administration is continuing their sick and pathetic policy of torturing people in Iraq when they think that all the lights and cameras are off. This is the subject of a new report out of Iraq from Amnesty International. The Bush administration would like you to think that the Abu Girhab photos were just a matter of a few frat boys gotten out of control. But this new report shows that the Bush administration’s torture plans are far broader than that. In their twisted logic, they thought that as soon as all the lights and cameras were off, they could go right back to doing whatever they wanted to.

In order to end the war in Iraq, we need to work with the Iraqi people as partners to create a vision in which everybody — Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, and other minorities — can share. We need to create a culture of openness and participation in which ordinary Iraqis feel like they have a stake in the future of Iraq instead of the current situation in which they live constantly in fear of arrest or instant death. This is why I support Russ Feingold for President — he is uniquely qualified to work across boundaries and bring people into the process. As President, he would engage in the same kind of crusade to maximize participation in Iraq that he has already through his campaign finance reform proposals and his refusal to accept huge campaign contributions at a time when everybody else was. Feingold understands how democracy ought to work as much as anybody — after all, he was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act. He would apply this kind of understanding to the Iraqi conflict as well.

This is a failure of leadership when the extent of the torture in Iraq is fully accounted for. Of course the Bush administration would say that they are treating prisoners in accordance of international law. That is part of their doublethink — on the one hand, they get Alberto Gonzales to write legal briefs saying that Geneva does not apply. On the other hand, they brazenly turn around and say that they are complying with the same laws that they said in secret that it was OK to break. This is typical of the rampant use of selective ethics that is part of the Bush administration’s culture of corruption.

The Bush administration may think human life is expendable — we don’t. Anybody who is not a cultic follower of Bush can accept the proposition that all human life is sacred. In contrast to the Bush administration, Democrats believe all human life is sacred and that no life is expendable. Bill Clinton had many faults as President — including having a blowjob. But one thing he did not do was he did not torture people just for the sake of flaunting his power. He had the vision and foresight to see to it that our intelligence and our law enforcement agencies were doing a top-notch job.

Clinton caught the Oklahoma City bombers and foiled plots to bomb the Space Needle in Seattle and LAX. Furthermore, he developed a culture of excellence within our law enforcement agencies — a culture in which a law enforcement agent risked his own life to foil a bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics that could have killed 100 people. There was no need to resort to these kind of heavy-handed tactics.

On the other hand, Bush is covering up his pathetic inability to find Bin Laden and his failure to protect us against the 9/11 bombings by torturing people when the lights are off and saying that they are complying with the law when the lights are on.

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