Leading article: A president's shameful legacy

Share
Related Topics

Anyone who imagined that, with the clock running down on his tenure in the White House and America's attention concentrated on the election of his successor, George Bush could do no more serious damage to America's reputation in the world must now surely be rueing their complacency.

At the weekend, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have specified what CIA interrogation techniques can legitimately be used against suspected terrorists. The intelligence bill, passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress, would have limited CIA interrogators to the 19 techniques allowed in the 2006 Army Field Manual. This would have ruled out methods such as simulated drowning ("waterboarding"), sensory deprivation, mock executions, hypothermia, beating, burning, electric shocks and sexual abuse.

Whether such techniques constitute "torture" or not (and the Bush administration is pretty much alone in believing that they do not), the dishonesty of the President's position is glaring. He claims that the bill "would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror" and argues "this program has produced critical intelligence that has helped us prevent a number of attacks". If such techniques are so useful, why did he consent to a previous bill in 2005 that outlawed their use by military, as opposed to CIA, personnel?

Moreover, Mr Bush provides no evidence to support his argument that such techniques have yielded results. In fact, all the evidence points the other way. The CIA publicly admitted last month that it water-boarded three terror suspects between 2002 and 2003 and recorded the sessions. But now those tapes have mysteriously been destroyed. If the information gleaned from these interrogations was so manifestly "critical", is it conceivable that they would have been destroyed?

The President shows no signs of understanding the damage done by giving free rein to interrogators. It is a sure-fire way to produce gross prisoner abuses of the sort we saw at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad. Mr Bush may claim until he is blue in the face that "we do not torture", but torture is exactly what his administration has facilitated with its disgracefully relaxed attitude to constraining interrogators.

This latest veto by Mr Bush is another example of a recurrent theme in his Presidency: a disregard for the international rule of law and a fatal indifference to how America is viewed by the rest of the world. This self-declared patriot who wraps himself in the Stars and Stripes at every opportunity has actually done as much as any American in recent years to undermine the values his country claims to stand for.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific