U.S. Congress to finally stand up against torture?

Obama's proposed agreement with the UAE is in jeopardy because of their tolerance of torture and lawlessness.

By Glenn Greenwald
Published May 22, 2009 9:23AM (EDT)

Yesterday, President Obama approved a proposed civilian nuclear technology-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates and requested its execution, but CNN -- in one of the all-time most unintentionally hilarious articles ever written -- reports that its ratification is in doubt:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama on Thursday sent a civil nuclear agreement with the United Arab Emirates to the Senate for ratification, but its passage remains uncertain, thanks to a recently disclosed video.

Senior U.S. officials said lawmakers critical of the deal could use the video, which shows a member of the UAE government's royal family torturing a man, to argue the United States should not have such nuclear cooperation with a country where the rule of law is not respected and human rights violations are tolerated.

How anyone could write or even read that last sentence without succumbing to painful, prolonged cackling is genuinely mystifying.  

The videos in questions involve torture by a single individual citizen of the UAE, not an entire government.  The individual torturer isn't even part of the UAE's government:  he never worked in its Justice Department, doesn't currently sit as a judge on a high-level court, doesn't teach law in a prestigious university, doesn't have his torture-defending speeches broadcast on national television by UAE news networks, isn't constantly defended by admiring journalists any time he's criticized, and doesn't have hordes of TV pundits demanding that nothing be done to him.  Also, the UAE legislature never passed any laws on a bipartisan basis retroactively immunizing him from the consequences of his torture.

And one other thing:  the torturer in question -- in the UAE -- has been arrested while a criminal investigation takes place.  More here.  Nonetheless, entering into an agreement with a country like that -- one that is so tolerant of "human rights violations" and "where the rule of law is not respected" -- would degrade our lofty moral standing and betray our steadfast commitment to the rule of law.

Glenn Greenwald

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