This is America, no matter how much
we wish it isn't
When I was in college, I would occasionally go to the Law School library. One of the books they had was Amnesty International's report on human rights. And you could read about various ways governments would torture people.
And then you'd get to the United States.
Where it would mention the death penalty.
People need to come to grips with something. All colonial powers use torture. How else can they control their enemies. The British used it against the Irish, the French against the Algerians, and the Americans against the Afghans and Iraqis.
Khalid Sheik Mohammad is one of hundreds, if not thousands of people who have faced some form of American torture. I would think the prisoners of Abu Ghraib would trade a little waterboarding for the rape of children.
Bush and Rumsfeld wanted to show how ruthless they were, so they went for torture as a way to show their enemies times have changed. Of course, torture is the idiots way of interrogation, and now Bush lives in fear of open courts and public testimony.
We must be concerned about the acts our government does in our name. We have a moral duty to oppose torture. But we have to decide how to do that. I think the best way is hearings in a Democratic house. It may be the only way.
But we need to get over ourselves as well. Our allies are not shocked by allegations of torture. We used to execute children, like Iran does. We execute the mentally ill and retarded. We are the only western country which uses state murder as punishment. When other countries, even our neighbors object, we sneer at them.
So why is anyone surprised that a man called the Texicutioner, who found a way to send minor criminals into the heinous Texas prison system, would turn to torture to save his failing war on terror.
When people say "is this what my country's come to?" I want to say "were you asleep for the last five years?"
Didn't anyone notice US troops shooting into Iraqi crowds, beating the shit out of protestors, humiliation at Gitmo with menstrual blood. How could you not know, at least in your heart, people were being tortured. Who was going to stop it? They'd locked an American citizen in a dungeon for years, without a lawyer. Once Rumsfeld said the words "enemy combatent" the Geneva Convention would be observed in the breach. A class of POW outside Geneva? That was it right there. Secret prisons? Bush should have been impeached the day we heard of such things.
Now, we don't have the luxury to sulk or be disgusted. A great many crimes have been committed and they have neither made this country safe, defeated our enemies or delivered
any measure of justice. We have to either find a way to bring the criminals to heel or live with worldwide scorn.
Frank Rich says in his new book, it isn't that Bush is stupid, but he thinks he's smarter than everyone else.
It might have been surprising Bush would cook up a law so convoluted that no court is going to endorse it, but we live in cynical times. They don't care if we debate torture, as long as we don't debate their failed war in Iraq.
This is not a debate about what this country has become. It is a debate about what this country is and how we change it.
posted by Steve @ 12:56:00 AM