Quote for the Day

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 5 2007 @ 3:05pm

"Peter the Third abolished the torture-chamber, and the Russian star chamber. Catherine the Second abolished torture. Alexander the First abolished it over again. Evidence given under torture is legally inadmissible, and any magistrate applying torture is himself liable to prosecution and severe punishment.
That is so: and all over Russia, from the Bering Straits to the Crimea, men suffer torture. When flogging is unsafe, other means are used – intolerable heat, thirst, salt food; in Moscow the police made a prisoner stand barefooted on an iron floor, at a time of intense frost; the man died in a hospital," – "The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen" (1830).

Notice how Herzen was quite clear that hypothermia, stress positions, dietary manipulation and extreme heat are all clearly torture. That definition – once taken for granted – is something rejected by almost all the Republican candidates, apart from McCain. Notice also how it occurred in Russia despite an official ban. And yet the president of the United States has fought tenaciously to retain it in his arsenal of war-powers. America was once a leader in human rights. Under Bush, we’re becoming a global force for the normalization of torture. It spreads, is spreading, and is very hard to stop. And America is legitimizing it in every ghastly prison and by every hideous regime in the world.