Torpedo the 14 Dem sell-outs

Since I've been traveling I haven't been following the fuss over Senate's recent approval of a bill that allows the use of torture because Article 3 was just too vague to W.'s liking (the Arab world's torturers-in-chief nod on in approval), but as this WaPo editorial points out the Democrats have once again lacked the guts to stand up and fight the bill their party supposedly opposed. The worst case consequence with this kind of legislation (which really retroactively absolves the Bush administration of having already carried out torture more than anything else) is not so much that torture will be used against those few Guantanamo prisoners, but that over a long period of time the use of torture and detention without charges will became the norm rather than the exception. This was the case in Egypt, when until the 1980s and the Gamaa Islamiya's insurgency torture was something reserved almost entirely to political prisoners. As Egyptian rights groups have documented -- and retired police and security officers have confirmed to journalists -- since then the use of torture has become general. It might be used to get a confession out of a petty thief just as it was used to get names from Islamist terrorists 20 years ago. It would be presumptuous to believe that what happened in Egypt can't happen in the US, despite the obvious superiority (for now) of the American legal process.

What people need to do now is punish the Democrats who voted for this bill just as they want to punish Republicans over the past few years. This is difficult to do in the absence of a credible third party (although I believe there are a few independents to vote for out there), but at least there are 14 Democrats who should be targeted. You can find their names in the roll call for the bill.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,