Listening to our government equivocate on the issue of torture the last week or so has just made me writhe, it’s so bad—and I mean, badly, stupidly done. First, if, as Bush insists, “we don’t torture” why would anyone object to boldly announcing that we voluntarily comply with the United Nations Convention Against Torture? Why would anyone object to amending US law to explicitly say so? Instead, we’ve had this utterly ridiculous back and forth, with people stateside saying that US laws don’t apply to US personnel abroad, and then Condoleeza Rice saying, yes, yes, they do—and that smug asshole Scott McClellan, the President’s Press Secretary, when asked how long this policy had been in effect, saying that it had been so since Secretary Rice said so--. And of course, you know that when Bush says “we don’t torture,” he’s using Alberto Gonzales’ definition of “pain less than organ failure,” which is a meaningless standard. How much pain does organ failure cause? To my knowledge, most organ failures like liver or kidney failure don’t hurt much—they just kind of creep up on you. How would anyone applying the not-torture know when to quit? Now the most recent weaseling is that we need an exception to the law in order to protect overzealous personnel who “might go too far.” WHAT? You don’t want to protect the personnel who go to far—you want to give them clear guidelines so that they DON’T go too far. There’s no doubt in my mind that if the US weren’t already a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, not only would we not be signing it, we’d be jawboning other nations to make US personnel immune to prosecution, just like we’ve been literally blackmailing other countries into signing treaties exempting the US from the jurisdiction of the International War Crimes Tribunal. It doesn’t help that Secretary Rice just isn’t a very good public speaker. She just sounds like she doesn’t believe it.