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About the proposed torture law
Written by B. Michael, English translation by Irit Katriel
Yediot Ahronot, Nov 5 1999

It is enough to read the law proposed by KM Rubi Rivlin in order to understand what happens when you come too close to trying to legalize the harm of people's bodies. Each and every item in this document is an embarrassing load of hypocricy and deception, greasy twists and obvious tricks.
Mr. Rivlin also published an article in Haaretz (11/3/99) with his scholared interpretation of his proposed law. But this article reveals, oh dear, that he not only did not understand the ruling of the supreme court, but also did not carefully read his own proposal.

For example, the law (as his interpretation also explains) states that torture will only be permitted in regards to "security felonies". But item 6 of the proposal permits the minister, in generous and vague terms, to "add to the felonies listed". As he wishes. Without restriction. He can, for instance, add the income tax laws and permit torture there.

Naturally, the slippiest section is the one that defines when it is ok to torture. The reader is invited to notice the flexible adjectives and the beautifully vagued definitions.
Here it is: "... the interrogator has received information from a presumably reliable source, that raise a reasonable suspicion, that a person has information that can, in considerable certainty....".

In short, if there is this kinda presumable suspicion that maybe, in, like, reasonable certainty... well, then you can break bones. And all, of course, in order to prevent "real and immediate danger to the security of the state". But what is "a danger to the security of the state", or what exactly counts as "real and immediate", the proposal does not bother to reveal. And experience and the SSM have already taught us that anything can find a place within these vague statements.

By the way, this proposal is so dumb, that the distinguished proposer forgot to include in the list of offenses that allow torture, those of murder, bombing and all the other ingredients of bloody terror attacks. In contrast, the "security offenses" that it covers include some interesting ones, such as - "distributing subversive propaganda", "obtaining classified information" (even without transferring it on), "acting for transfer of land from the possession of Israel" (such as a demonstration for withdrawal from the Golan heights, or calling for the division of Jerusalem), and also "practicing military movements" (such as parading, and maybe even simple salutes).

In his enlightening article, Rivlin proudly explains that his law makes "a definite distinction between criminal and security offenses". And so, right before our eyes, the law is not only smeared with torture, but also covered with the shame of racism. What makes the blood of terror victims more precious than that of the victims of child murderers, for instance? Why should an SSM interrogator be allowed to electrify the testicles of someone who maybe knows the whereabouts of someone who maybe knows where a kidnapped soldier is, while a policeman is not allowed to pull out the fingernails of someone who knows when and where someone is to be murdered?
Because: the abductors of the soldier are Arabs and so their bodies are allowed. But the criminals of Israel - they are all good and dear brothers, and must not lose one hair from their armpits.

But Rivlin doesn't understand what he is suggesting. This law not only doesn't distinguish between criminal and security issues, it completely voids any distinction. Will the honorable KM please clarify: the murder of Tal Reichman RIP [IK: a teenager who was found murdered on the week of this article] (before solved) - was it criminal or security? Yigal Amir [IK: Rabin's assassin] and his associates - criminal or security? A gang of car thieves, criminal or security? And every car accident that an Arab driver is involved in, the ones that are followed by a hint that this might have been a terrorist attack, is it criminal or security? In all these cases, is it ok to torture, or not?

But it seems that the hypocricy and vanity reach their peak in sections 5a and 8. Section 5 permits to begin with torture even without a judge's authorization (if the interrogator feels that there is no time), but limits the torture to two hours. How humane. Well, and what then? After two hours the bomb can go off? Let's hope that Rivlin informed the terrorists that from now on they should use bombs with timers that tick for no more than two hours. Or maybe this section was added in behalf of the union of the torturers and shakers: after all, after two hours of tiring torture they deserve a few minute's break.

Section 8 states that nobody will be incriminated based on information obtained by torture. How progressive. But it doesn't state that nobody else will be incriminated by information obtained from the tortured. Meaning (or should I say - as usual), Mohammed will be tortured in order to incriminate Ahmed, and vice versa. This is fine.

I could have gone on and on, mocking every section and every word, but that's not what this is about. If it was only about Rubi Rivlin, there would have been no need to disturb the keyboard over him. After all, there is no need to debate with every joker. But there are voices coming from the office of prime minister Barak, that he is also unhappy with the supreme court ruling, and he is also looking for a way to legalize the disgrace.

God save him, and us. Even if he will make peace with the whole world, and create five million new jobs, he will be known in history as the first democratic leader who legalized torture.
Mr. Barak likes to say that he is the follower of Rabin. On some issues, he would be better off following the steps of Menachem Begin.