moral relativism on the far right

It’s been a little while, dear reader, since I posted links about the U.S. abusing prisoners of war (April 30, May 11) . This story has been all over the news, so it’s not like you need me to point you to relevant information. However, I would like to draw your attention to this story in today’s Washington Post, which reports that “Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, … approved letting senior officials at a Baghdad jail use military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation, and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished.” Some have argued that the abuses of prisoners were the actions of a few rogue soldiers, but surely this revelation demonstrates that the tone was set at the highest levels.

Meanwhile, according to CNN U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress that

[T]he Bush administration had determined that al Qaeda operatives were not covered by the Geneva Conventions because they did not belong to governments that had signed the agreements and did not meet other requirements, such as wearing of recognizable military uniforms.

Am I wrong in concluding from this statement that if you’re a civilian from a country that has not signed the Geneva Convention agreements, the Bush administration thinks its acceptable to torture you? ‘Cause that’s what it sounds like Ashcroft is saying.

Now, you would think that people like George W. Bush and John Ashcroft, both of whom claim to have strong Christian beliefs, would believe that what’s right is right all the time, no matter what the lawyers say. However, when it comes to the really important issues, we now know that they subscribe to the kind of disturbing moral relativism that conservatives like to claim for those of us on the left-hand side of the political spectrum.

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  1. “Rumsfeld Issued an Order to Hide Detainee in Iraq”, by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker (NY Times)

    Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, acting at the request of George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, ordered military officials in Iraq last November to hold a man suspected of being a senior Iraqi terrorist at a high-level detention center there but not list him on the prison’s rolls, senior Pentagon and intelligence officials said Wednesday.

    This prisoner and other “ghost detainees” were hidden largely to prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from monitoring their treatment, and to avoid disclosing their location to an enemy, officials said.

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