War Criminal

I was going to write my reaction to today’s NY Times investigative piece about how the Bush administration decided to break America’s historic ban on torture and then engaged in the politicization of legal interpretation to keep torture alive, but I can’t sum it up any better than Andrew Sullivan has.

As he writes:

Perhaps a sudden, panicked decision by the president to use torture after 9/11 is understandable if unforgivable. But the relentless, sustained attempt to make torture permanent part of the war-powers of the president, even to the point of abusing the law beyond recognition, removes any benefit of the doubt from these people. And they did it all in secret – and lied about it when Abu Ghraib emerged. They upended two centuries of American humane detention and interrogation practices without even letting us know. And the decision to allow one man – the decider – to pre-empt and knowingly distort the rule of law in order to detain and torture anyone he wants – is a function not of conservatism, but of fascism.

The only way this subject will stick is if we continually talk about it, long enough and loud enough that the corporate media notices and actually covers it for more than a soundbite. This should be the defining National conversation. Why isn’t it?

As Sullivan (remember- a Conservative) concludes:

We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?

14 Replies to “War Criminal”

  1. I want to believe that we can change it

    This should be the defining National conversation. Why isn’t it?

    There are probably dozens of reasons that people could give, but i think it boils down to the fact that we are a generation of apathy, and what efforts we have made, like electing Democrats as the majority of the House and Senate, haven’t born much fruit.

    I caught an interview of Ken Burns on Bill Maher’s show, and he had a very insightful notion about daily isolation:

    “BURNS: I think today we’re all independent, free agents. You know, we drive in our car alone. We, you know, listen to TV and radio alone. We surf the Net alone. We’re acquisitive. We’re not – we don’t want to give up anything. And yet we feel a poverty of spirit. Back then, we gave up everything. You know, we made three million cars in 1941 and only a few hundred for the remainder of the war. We did without. And yet we strengthened some essential core of who we are. It’s – it’s a testament to that generation. Not just those who fought, but those who stayed behind and worked together. We were in it. We had the same range of diverse political opinions, but we were not sort of slaves to the consumer culture that we are now. We’re not slaves to our own narcissism.

    MAHER: But I have heard people say that even though they are called “the greatest generation” – and I’ve heard this from actual people in that generation, who said, “Look, we weren’t until the war came along.”

    BURNS: Yeah, I think that’s right.

    MAHER: Do you think if a war of that magnitude – if a calling of that magnitude – because, certainly Americans, they may not be that bright about a lot of things, but they get it that this war that we’re told is World War III is not World War III – do you think this generation we have now would rise up and reach those heights and become another “great generation”? Or do you think they don’t have it in them?

    BURNS: I think we have it in us. You know, it’s hard to say. But, we haven’t been called. After 9/11, we were asked to go shopping. You know, who knows what we could have been able to do. Maybe in the six years – intervening six years – if we’d really applied ourselves, we would have freed ourselves of dependency on foreign oil. We might be able to have served our infrastructure where our bridges aren’t collapsing, our levees aren’t failing. We would have figured out how to get a trailer to New Orleans in less than three months. [applause] We were able to do so many things.

    MAHER: You are a dreamer. [laughter]”

    I get the feeling that Bush isn’t going to be recognized for what he really is for many years, after a couple of administrations have come through and we’re finally acknowledging the damage done to The Middle East, and our foreign relations abroad.

    I would love to believe that there exists a means for people to end the war and change the course of foreign policy and diplomacy, but sadly i don’t think we can. However, I do think that it’s important for journalists to write about it and make it as public as possible in the meantime.

  2. Re: I want to believe that we can change it

    Sadly, I am completely heartsick with the thought that irrevocable change has been wrought in this country…..that the true horror of all of this is that the average American doesn’t have a problem with torture, etc., as long as they feel that it’s keeping them “safe” from the Scary Brown People.

    I am no longer confident that there’s any way back from this.

  3. Re: I want to believe that we can change it

    I have been reading Al Gore’s Assualt on reason a lot lately and in it he talks about how America is now an audience society. That the feeling to interact with the going’s on of America is not at the fron of people’s mind- unless it is something that happens to us like the hurricanes in the south. That when we are watching what our country is doing to others, it does not have an affect upon us in the same manner. In an audience society you do not seek out your news, you accept what plays before you. *in a nut shell*

    I also think that generations that went through the silence that was brought on by the tensions of the cold war plays a part. I also think that the lack of personal stories of the left movements of the 50’s through the 70’s also reflects on the very passive attitude of the the American public.

    And of course the media plays a huge part in this. Talk to someone that watches the local news on a daily basis. They are told that these people are coming after their children and grandmothers. That they will rape your puppies and steal your daughters. So in their closed little world, torture of these people are ok. They simply are not given the whole story.

    I wouldn’t blame the american- I would blame their teaching.

  4. Re: I want to believe that we can change it

    “And of course the media plays a huge part in this.”

    You are right, but I think you missed the biggest part. Most of our entertainment has us sitting back passively, which I’m sure plays a big part in the training.

  5. Re: good…

    Hmm, possibly, but if somone is defined as an “enemy combatant” it doesn’t matter if they are a citizen or not. The closest example I can think of is Jose Padilla, and I’m not sure if cruel treatment or torture was ever used in his case, but its my understanding that its part of the policies they’ve been going for. I guess the question also is, how is 3.1 different from 1.1 and 1.2? That I’m not really sure, at least as far as the Court procedes.

    I just realized I missed 1.3, though.

  6. Re: I want to believe that we can change it

    I think that is a great step. But who is going to admit that? The left side ahs been saying this for decades and the rights are pushing it under the rug. On so many issues this country is so far divaded that a united front of this sort, while it would be amazing, I do not see it happening.

    Another step could also be voting… using our voice to educate, not alienate- which is something I struggle with when I jump on my soap box, people. To call, write, lobby the officials that represent you. To track what they do, how they vote, and where they get their money. And remember that when you go to the polls.

    I alsothink blogs are opening channels for discussion more than before. But there is still a greater need for more communication. We need to invent new ways of getting attention and informing citizens of what is going on. Because while Corporate owns our airwaves, there will not be an unbiased voice.

  7. Re: I want to believe that we can change it

    in a recent post on this same topic said something that I have to agree with: “I think the Democrats will be all too happy to have the unlimited, unchecked, lawless powers the Bush administration has so far successfully claimed.”

    I would like to think that like Democrats are better than that. I really would, but I don’t know that I can.

    I’m all for voting when it actually works. I don’t know that I can believe an election isn’t rigged anymore. How sad is that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.