Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bush visit to Canada Tuesday

George W. Bush, who left office with one of the lowest popularity ratings in U.S. history, will officially kick off his unofficial post-presidential image rehabilition [sic] tour with a speech in Calgary on Tuesday.

But some protesters who plan to be on hand at the city's convention centre say "Dubya" doesn't deserve a soapbox - he should be in handcuffs.

When Bush steps up to the podium at a closely controlled private event, he'll face 1,500 friendly faces brought in by organizers and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Tickets reportedly sold for $400 each and were made available exclusively by invitation.

Those invitations say Bush will share his thoughts "on eight momentous years in the Oval Office." The former president will also speak about "the challenges facing the world in the 21st century."

Protesters promise to be out in full force.
Then consider this series of inconvenient and graphic revelations on the eve of Bush's visit:
“I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck; they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room.”

The prisoner was then put in a coffin-like black box, about 4 feet by 3 feet and 6 feet high, “for what I think was about one and a half to two hours.” He added: The box was totally black on the inside as well as the outside.... They put a cloth or cover over the outside of the box to cut out the light and restrict my air supply. It was difficult to breathe. When I was let out of the box I saw that one of the walls of the room had been covered with plywood sheeting. From now on it was against this wall that I was then smashed with the towel around my neck. I think that the plywood was put there to provide some absorption of the impact of my body. The interrogators realized that smashing me against the hard wall would probably quickly result in physical injury.”

After this beating, Abu Zubaydah was placed in a small box approximately three feet tall. “They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about three months after my last operation. It was always cold in the room, but when the cover was placed over the box it made it hot and sweaty inside. The wound on my leg began to open and started to bleed. I don’t know how long I remained in the small box; I think I may have slept or maybe fainted.

“I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly, and put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds was very painful. I vomited.

“The bed was then again lowered to horizontal position and the same torture carried out again with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless.”

After being placed again in the tall box, Abu Zubaydah “was then taken out and again a towel was wrapped around my neck and I was smashed into the wall with the plywood covering and repeatedly slapped in the face by the same two interrogators as before.

“I was then made to sit on the floor with a black hood over my head until the next session of torture began. The room was always kept very cold.

This went on for approximately one week.”
So let's hear what the former President has to say about why he approved of such measures, how they helped advance the American fight against terrorism. How foundational legal principles like habeas corpus were suspended. How the Geneva Conventions were lawyered away under his watch in the U.S., how the U.S. constitution was perverted, abrogated, trashed by such practices as those above. Let him explain how these prisoners will ever be brought to "justice" as a result of the litany of abuses the Red Cross has catalogued. That's certainly one of the challenges facing the U.S. now, in his wake. Or let him speak to this proposition:
Torture made Americans — both at home and those serving overseas — less safe. In fact, former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan testified that the Bush-Cheney policies had convinced him that “revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland is coming.”
Those seem like some big issues arising out of "eight momentous years in the Oval Office." Not that Bush will, of course, address any of it in substance. If he does touch on any of these issues, it'll likely be along the lines of the talking points Cheney was pushing today:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that by jettisoning key elements of the Bush administration's approach to terrorism, President Obama had increased the risk of more attacks on the country.
The fear mongering that was soundly rejected by Obama's election continues. Expect a rousing defence from Bush of his policies as having kept America "safe."

The torture issue is bound to follow Bush administration officials on their international travels, as it now is on the eve of the visit to our country, as protesters are demonstrating in the run up to Bush's arrival. It remains unresolved, the elephant in the room as Bush visits the "friendly faces" in Calgary.