Sunday, February 12, 2006

US Morphs Into Cambodia -- In Less Than Ten Years

The Sunday London Times reported on February 12, 2006 that the U.S. is helping to build a prison in Morocco which will be run by Moroccan secret police. Morocco has been cited as one of the U.S.’s principal partners in our “extraordinary rendition” program, wherein torture is used by foreign nationals to interrogate US prisoners, thus to avoid US anti-torture statutes.

In 1997, I headed a public defender project in Cambodia. Many practices of the infamous Pol Pot regime were still in evidence. Our attorneys encountered numerous instances of pre-trial torture, illegal detention in private prisons set up by government officials, and extra-judicial executions.

The experience gave me great respect for the American criminal justice system where such practices were virtually non-existent...then.

Now, less than ten years later, the use of torture for interrogation is promoted and defended by President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

The Bush administration has established private jails in foreign countries for the extra-judicial imprisonment and tortured interrogation of "detainees", even using former Soviet prisons in Eastern Europe. Those imprisoned are not afforded counsel, notice of the charges against them, trial by impartial magistrate or jury, not even notification to their families of their imprisonment.

We learn this week too that President Bush lied when he said that all the GITMO prisoners in Cuba were "bad guys". In fact, 90% of the GITMO prisoners are not Al Qaeda, Taliban or terrorists, but were kidnapped and sold to the US by Pakistani and Afghan allies at so much per head. FBI reports indicate that some of these prisoners have been tortured by U.S. agencies. It is no wonder that Bush didn't want these GITMO prisoners to be brought to a U.S. court. He had no evidence against them.

The Pol Pot regime was responsible for the death of almost two million Cambodians. Millions were killed in Hitler's death camps and Stalin and Mao's gulags.

It is no longer possible to say that the same can't happen in the United States when we learn from a January 27, 2006 press release that Vice President Cheney's Halliburton company has just received a billion dollar plus contract to construct detention camps inside the U.S. for "an overflow of immigrants and other special programs".

Yesterday a top CIA official quit or was fired because he opposed the Bush-Cheney pro-torture policy.

How much longer will it be before casting a vote for a Democratic candidate qualifies one for a berth in one of Halliburton's special detention facilities?

It is imperative that Americans who value democracy and our Constitution, be they conservative or liberal, unite to stop the Bush administration's imperial presidency.

We must demand that our congressional representative, Congressman Ed Case and Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, do everything they can to shut down the funds for secret detention centers, torturing interrogation teams, death squads, and new military excursions into the Middle East, Africa and South and Central America.

We must vote corrupt Republicans out of office and put a Democratic majority in Congress to restore our democracy.

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