What Part of “Outrages Upon Personal Dignity” Don’t They Understand?

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In the “international law is what we damn well say it is” department, the Bush administration is proposing a bill to revise the War Crimes Act, the law that essentially binds the U.S. to the Geneva Conventions. Apparently, reports the Washington Post, the administration is concerned with excessive vagueness in the Conventions’ language (crafted, lest we forget, essentially by American negotiators), particularly the part about forbidding “outrages upon personal dignity.” Because, you see, this administration is all about appreciating cultural differences:

“I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion,” [Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon] England said.

Midnight Express, anyone? How long till we hear that exact same language out of a spokesman for some government, somewhere, to explain what’s being done to some hapless American tourist (or CIA officer, for that matter) who’s ended up in a bad, bad jail?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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