Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This One's For You: What The Bush Administration Did For America

There are lies, and then there are lies.

There was Bill Clinton claiming that "he did not have sexual relations with that woman," for which he was impeached. Aides to Richard M. Nixon went to prison for crimes, and covering up crimes, that subverted the electoral process and that abused the power of government to investigate and punish Nixon's political enemies.

So how about the lies of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld? The lies about "a few bad apples" committing aberrant crimes at Abu Ghraib? Where do we stand as a nation on those?

Oh sure, you have been hearing reports on the news all day, but we are historians: we always want to look at the archive. So you might want to read this government report about the full knowledge Bush administration officials had about what was going on at Abu Ghraib, and other places where people were being tortured on the authority of the President of the United States. How did the Bush administration know? They ordered it, that's how. And they bought and paid for the lawyers who did the paperwork that gave them cover. Why, one of those lawyers was so smart the Bush administration appointed him to the federal bench! If you look at the summary of the declassified report released today, you will see that every branch of the armed services knew that what was being proposed was torture, that the so-called "legal reviews" were cooked, and the administration went ahead anyway and ordered them to do it. And they did. One striking thing about this report is that the word "torture" is used over and over in the narrative, as well as in the documents that were reviewed and are cited as proof of these human rights abuses.

Please remember that the executive branch and the media have instead, for all these years, insisted on the phrase "harsh interrogation" to describe what was done to prisoners in the custody of the democratic, freedom-loving United States government.

Where are all those Republicans who insist on accountability now? Where are the conservative intellectuals, screaming for the truth, denouncing government lies? And would a conservative administration have promoted the brutal torture of people they considered fully human? Christians? Whites? Someone needs to ask them this question.

On the Lehrer News Hour tonight, Lindsay Graham, the mealy-mouth Senator and eternal Presidential hopeful from South Carolina, reminded us that he has opposed torture all along, but that "we should only look backwards to look forward in the right way." Those who tortured and authorized torture "should not be criminally responsible" for what appear to the rest of us to have been politically-motivated criminal acts. "I don't want to prosecute somebody for a political difference," he expained.

I. Am. So. Ashamed. Of my country.


Val said...

I feel compelled to say something, but
I don't even know what to say, other than that I agree wholeheartedly... and that I have had an email to you sitting in my drafts box for almost a week now. *blush*

JackDanielsBlack said...

Well, I think everyone involved should be called to account and punished appropriately. I also think folks in Congress who were briefed on these activities and said nothing (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) should be included in the "everyone" mentioned above. I think part of what happened was due to the panic after 9/11 and that should be taken into account. But the torture and the disappearances and the expansion in domestic surveillance were inexcusable and unAmerican -- and so saith this conservative.

I also wonder whether the CIA is really just a full-employment scheme for Ivy League clowns.

JackDanielsBlack said...

If you want to see a conservative Fox News commenter speaking out on this, go over to today's Huffington Post and check out Shepard Smith. Sample bit of dialog: "We are America!" he shouted, slamming his hand on the table. "I don't give a rat's ass if it helps. We are AMERICA! We do not fucking torture!!" (Doubt seriously that this part of the video made it on the air, but what he said on the air is forceful enough.) This video is amazing -- check it out.

Bardiac said...

I read one of the memos through last night, and kept seeing references to the question of whether the tortures would be "shocking" to the conscience (which was about a court decision), and asserting that no, the tortures weren't shocking.

Well, they're wrong. The tortures ARE shocking.

I join you in the shame.

human said...

Lindsay Graham, the mealy-mouth Senator and eternal Presidential hopeful from South Carolina, reminded us that he has opposed torture all alongLIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!

Debrah said...

I would suggest some of you read this offering from National Journal.

Taylor lays it all out in realistic terms.

He's short on flapping his lips in partisan rage.

Questions need to be answered.

Keep political posturing out of it.

Debrah said...

"If you want to see a conservative Fox News commenter speaking out on this, go over to today's Huffington Post and check out Shepard Smith." ****************


Like Frisco's Gavin Newsom, Shephard Smith is a twit.

winifred said...

"Flapping his lips"? Really????

JackDanielsBlack said...

Debra, "Shepard Smith is a twit"--very intellectual argument. Shepard Smith showed much more courage saying what he did on the Fox channel than any of us are exhibiting by being against torture on this blo

Debrah said...

TO "Jack Daniels"--

I'm not necessarily against it.

Stuart Taylor outlines the most rational approach.

Following the almighty "Constitution" should not be a suicide pact.

JackDanielsBlack said...

Debra, I don't think that the torture saved lives -- but what I would say, in this case as in others, is that the end (getting rid of Saddam Hussein, getting rid of a troublesome pregnancy, "saving lives") never justifies the means (preemptive war, abortion, torture). Observing this principle will prevent all kinds of evil.

"The constitution is not a suicide pact" is a bumper-sticker slogan, not an argument.

Debrah said...

..... the end (getting rid of Saddam Hussein, getting rid of a troublesome pregnancy, "saving lives") never justifies the means (preemptive war, abortion, torture).******************


"The constitution is not a suicide pact" is a bumper-sticker slogan, not an argument. ******************

It's pure unadulterated wit at its most magnificent.

JackDanielsBlack said...

Here is a passage from the encyclical Gaudium et Spes by Pope Paul VI, as pointed out today by Andrew Sullivan:

Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.

Anonymous said...

Why no wrath for Nancy Pelosi who was fully briefed on the waterboarding and asked the CIA if they needed to do more.

Bardiac, the working definition of torture for the US government is that it should "shock the conscience" which explains the references you refer to. Certainly making people cold or stand naked under bright lights doesn't shock my conscience. Waterboarding might shock my conscience except I've seen multiple reporters waterboarded live on television, so it no longer does.

Debrah said...

TO (1:27 PM)--

All excellent points.

And if Christopher Hitchens can get through waterboarding anyone can.

He did an entire Vanity Fair article on it last year.

This issue is going to be tough.

Obama must not yield to the leftist fringe.

He'd better not---and this country had better not---forget of what Islamic extremists are capable.

Glossing over the horrors now that we know to be true is a fool's game.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, marriage and Christian Values are more important than Ir... oh crap....

JackDanielsBlack said...

From one of Andrew Sullivan's readers, a few days ago:

First they tortured in ticking time bomb cases but I didn't mind because it was a clear and imminent danger.

Second they tortured "slow-fuse" high value detainees and I didn't mind, because you never know what might happen.

Third they tortured Iraqi and Afghan prisoners who weren't high value, but who might have had useful information, and I didn't mind, because they were acting in good faith.

Fourth they tortured prisoners to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, and I didn't mind, because surely there must have been such a connection.

Finally, they came to torture me, and nobody cared, because if I was being tortured, I obviously deserved to be tortured, and, as Peggy Noonan says, some things are just mysterious and it's best to just keep on walking.

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