12-18-2017  8:43 am      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

Exhibit Explores the Legacy of Portland Bird Watchers

Dedicated bird watchers catapult a conservationist movement ...

Special Call for Stories about the Spanish Flu

Genealogical Forum of Oregon seeks stories from the public about one of history's most lethal outbreaks ...

Joint Office of Homeless Services Announces Severe Weather Strategy

Those seeking shelter should call 211 or visit 211.org. Neighbors needed to volunteer, donate cold-weather apparel ...

Q&A with Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams

A conversation on diversity and the tech industry ...

City Announces Laura John as Tribal Liason

Laura John brings an extensive background in tribal advocacy and community engagement to the city of Portland ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Don’t Delay, Sign-up for Affordable Healthcare Today

The deadline to enroll or modify healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is December 15. ...

The Skanner Editorial: Alabama Voters Must Reject Moore

Allegations of predatory behavior are troubling – and so is his resume ...

Payday Lenders Continue Attack on Consumer Protections

Charlene Crowell of the Center for Responsible Lending writes that two bills that favor predatory lenders has received bipartisan...

Hundreds Rallied for Meek Mill, but What About the Rest?

Lynette Monroe, a guest columnist for the NNPA Newswire, talks about Meek Mill, the shady judge that locked him up and mass...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

The Rev. Jesse Jackson

"We do not torture," President Bush said last week. But this pledge, delivered almost as if it were a bully's taunt rather than a leader's promise, is simply not true — and the president knows it.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib displayed to the world that the United States has trampled the international standards that this country had traditionally championed. Those horrors were blamed on a few rogue soldiers who were hauled into court.

Then we learned that what happened in Abu Ghraib came after the general in charge of the Guantánamo interrogations was sent to Iraq to toughen up the interrogation process. Then we learned that the military's own judicial corps had objected internally and externally to new rules issued by the White House and the Pentagon that violated the Army's guidelines on the treatment of prisoners.

Now we know that the CIA has kept prisoners in a range of black holes, off-the-record prisons in countries from Thailand to Eastern Europe. They've turned prisoners over to countries like Egypt known for torturing prisoners.

So two of the only Republican Senators with actual service in the military — John McCain and Lindsey Graham — drafted a law to reassert America's opposition to torture and its commitment to international law and the Geneva Conventions as detailed in the Army's code of conduct.

After the law passed the Senate with an overwhelming vote, Vice President Cheney weighed in from his undisclosed location demanding an exemption for the CIA and the prisoners it holds. President Bush threatened to use the first veto of his years in office to veto legislation that simply commits the U.S. to following this historic practice of not torturing prisoners.

We don't torture, says the president. But this administration has tortured prisoners in hellholes across the world, and this administration demands any law gives them the right to torture when they deem it necessary.

Torture, from the Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld crowd, is simply part of the president's authority as commander-in-chief. Anything he orders is legitimate in the worldwide war on terror. Nothing is off limits. International laws do not apply. Traditional standards the military has been proud to uphold are to be ignored.

The strongest opposition to this arrogance comes not from the peace movement, but from the military themselves. The U.S. military is proud of the way it treats prisoners of war. It has championed humane treatment of prisoners across the wars and across the years. Partly this was to distinguish our military from the marauders of totalitarian countries and movements. Partly it was to build an international consensus on humane treatment that would support decent treatment for U.S. troops when they are held prisoners.

The terrorists of al-Qaeda, of course, follow no such civilized standards. They behead prisoners on videotape and torture them to terrorize others. But that utter disregard for human life is what makes them terrorists and outlaws. It is shameful for the administration to lower our own country into that gutter.

The outrages are suffered by more than prisoners suspected, often incorrectly, of complicity with the terrorists. Anger is inflamed among the 1 billion Muslims in the world. Bin Laden's claim that we are waging an immoral war on Islam gains credibility. Our claim that we represent law and humanity against the forces of terror is mocked by the administration's policies. U.S. credibility is shredded by the administration's lies and dodges. And our nation's own commitment to the young men and women it puts in harm's way is violated by making them take the rap for the lawlessness of the president and his men.

The Congress should proceed and pass the bill upholding basic standards. If the president vetoes it, he will show once more that his policies mock his promises. And across the country, those who count themselves among the civilized, those who consider themselves people of faith, must protest this outrage.

It is our country's reputation and security that this president is shredding with his contempt for the law.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

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