June 22nd, 2006, 02:03 AM
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Silence deafening when U.S. is torture target
By Jules Crittenden
Boston Herald City Editor
Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - Updated: 05:16 PM EST
Two American soldiers have been tortured to death, their bodies mutilated.Al-Qaeda in Iraq has bragged on the Internet that its new leader, apparently eager to boost his image as a butcher, personally “slaughtered” Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Oregon. The Arab term “nahr,” which applies to the ritual slitting of a sheep’s throat, was used.Ironically, and tragically, the parents of Spec. David Babineau of Springfield, Mass., may now have reason to be grateful their son was killed in the ambush and not taken alive with his comrades.
In the coming days and weeks, we will learn more about what was done to these young men. As horrifying as that information promises to be, we should pay attention. At a time when the term “torture” is tossed about casually to describe the actions of the United States government, this should be a learning moment.
Amnesty International has declared June “Torture Awareness Month.” The United Nations has declared June 26 to be “International Day in Support of Survivors and Victims of Torture.”
Care to guess who they are talking about?
Amnesty International USA’s Web site on the subject is highly concerned about the United States and “the growing evidence that the U.S. government is engaging systematically in the use of torture and inhuman treatment as part of the ‘war on terror.’”Those are their quote marks around “war on terror,” by the way. Apparently that is a concept Amnesty International felt it must hold at arm’s length. This organization, while occasionally paying lip service to the victims of al-Qaeda, has remained intensely focused on the detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and unsubstantiated reports that detainees have been moved by the CIA to secret prisons or third countries where they may have been tortured. Amnesty International and the United Nations state that incommunicado detention in secret places “constitutes a form of torture.”
There has been a great deal of international outcry about detainees’ humiliation, their exposure to barking dogs, sleep deprivation, and general discomfort, measures designed to disorient them, break their spirit and make them talk.There have been calls for investigations that continue despite ongoing investigations that have led to prosecutions.
The silence when hostages’ heads are sawn off is deafening.
Unlike al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, who apparently is bragging about purposeful, bloody torture and murder, President Bush has come out repeatedly to denounce alleged abuses by American soldiers that cannot be compared by reasonable people to the acts of al-Qaeda.
In Iraq, in the Arab world, in Europe, at the United Nations, at Amnesty International, we can wait for the outcry and the street protests: that al-Qaeda in Iraq must investigate the brutal torture and murder of abducted American soldiers, that Osama bin Laden must denounce it, that all good Muslims everywhere should repudiate it and demand justice as all good Americans and the American president have in the somewhat less egregious cases that have been attributed to U.S. forces.
It is, after all, Torture Awareness Month. Maybe next week, in observance of International Day in Support of Survivors and Victims of Torture Day, there will be a big march somewhere to denounce the mutilation of captured American soldiers.
But don’t hold your breath.