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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice