EDITORIAL: Feeling secure?

Under the guise of a “war on terror,” this administration has invaded two countries, unleashed the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands, including close to 4,000 American troops, terrorized and tortured detainees, and illegally spied on Americans. Are we feeling more secure?

A new storm has arisen over secret Justice Department memos leaked to the press this month. The memos, issued in 2005, gave the OK to CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including head-slapping, exposure to freezing cold and “waterboarding” — simulated drowning. These, says the Center for Constitutional Rights, “in reality qualify as torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” banned by the Geneva Conventions.

In 2004, the department publicly declared torture “abhorrent.” The secret memos were issued only a few months later.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has wrapped itself in a “state secrets” and “national security” cloak to block a lawsuit by a German citizen of Lebanese descent who was abducted by U.S. CIA agents in 2003, taken to Afghanistan and held there in a secret prison for five months, where he says he was tortured before finally being let go. He had been mistaken for a “terrorism suspect” with a similar name.

More than 330 detainees remain locked up at Guantanamo, their lives apparently considered of no importance to this administration.

At the same time, the “war on terror” is being used to try to cow lawmakers into giving the president sweeping power to spy on ordinary Americans.

Is any of this making us more secure? Or is it destroying the fabric of our society?

This administration’s phony “war on terror” is a cover for anti-democratic measures and reckless militarism that endanger us all and divert from real solutions to our pressing problems.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) had it right this past week when he said, “If you want to fight terrorism, think about giving them [families] some health care because that’s going to give them a lot more peace of mind at night than all the guns and bullets you’re going to be shipping over to Iraq as a result of your military planning and spending bills.”