Get This Through Your Heads

So, Bush last week admitted complicity in his administration’s policy of torturing people. Earlier, the Associated Press revealed that Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, and George Tenet were also complicit. Donald Rumsfeld was implicated as far back as July of 2005, and Alberto Gonzales’s already known complicity didn’t prevent him from being confirmed as this nation’s chief law enforcement officer, even earlier in 2005. Just over a month ago, Bush ignored the advice of “43 retired generals and admirals and 18 national security experts, including former secretaries of state and national security advisers,” and vetoed a bill that would have forbade the U.S. from engaging in torture, and Republican nominee-to-be John McCain supported his doing so. None of this is a surprise. At the risk of being cynical, none of it really matters, except for the historical record, because no one who is in the position of being able to do anything about it seems so inclined.

We are a nation that tortures people. The White House decides what forms of torture can be used, and Congress, which hasn’t overridden Bush’s veto, played its part by giving Bush tacit approval to continue doing so. And no leading Democrats mention that maybe violating international and moral laws ought to disqualify those responsible from holding public office. No leading Democrats ever supported impeaching the torturers. No leading Democrats talk about possible war crimes implications. No leading Democrats talk about holding the torturers legally accountable, once they leave office. Of course, no one will be surprised if Bush blanket pardons everyone, before he leaves office, and only impeachments would negate his ability to thus immunize them from prosecution. But Jack Balkin says the 2006 Military Commissions Act “effectively insulated government officials from liability for many of the violations of the War Crimes Act they might have committed during the period prior to 2006,” so it’s probably a moot point, anyway. And Marty Lederman is skeptical of the idea of a Department of Justice prosecuting people whose behavior was given legal clearance by a previous Department of Justice, so it’s probably a moot point, anyway- twice over.

We are a nation that tortures people. The outrage over last week’s revelations reveal that people still don’t understand that fact. We are a nation that tortures people. Outrage over further revelations of that fact will similarly reveal that people still won’t understand that fact. We are a nation that tortures people. It is no longer about this criminal administration or any criminal individuals working within it, we are a nation that tortures people. It’s now institutional. To address that fact, to do anything about it, will require levels of outrage far exceeding the outrage directed at one administration or the criminals working within it. We are a nation that tortures people. Until our ostensible progressive leaders, until we, as a nation, decide to do something about that fact, it will simply be a part of who we are. We are a nation that tortures people. The people responsible for that fact get away with it because no one and nothing will stop them from getting away with it. We are a nation that tortures people.


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  1. congress….

    also complicit…..

    land of the who, home of the what ?!?………..

    • TomP on April 15, 2008 at 00:27

    Clinton talk about it.

  2. Add in the fact that if it ever goes to the Scotus, it will be decided by Roberts and his merry munchkins.

    But the fact that it was suddenly declared legal in 2001-2 after being illegal for all of our history….and the ruled illegal again in 2006 (waterboarding at least) gives me some hope that justice still has a slim chance….somewhere, somehow….

    Hey, We The People…..Wake The Fuck Up!


    • Edger on April 15, 2008 at 00:33

    in it together…

    All the ones not in the picture too…

    • Viet71 on April 15, 2008 at 00:56

    lazy. But my life is OK.  Bad things happen to other people.  People who are not part of my club.

    Don’t bother me.  My life is OK.

  3. … just finished telling a market researcher who called why I don’t do market surveys.

    After I hung up I thought … and not even angrily, or anything, just thought, maybe that survey company should start surveying how people feel about torturing … about a whole lot of other things than what car folks drive and their favorite breakfast cereal.

    Getting this through my head … this kind of writing helps very much.  It’s important for me to get this through my head, and I don’t find it easy.  Just necessary.  

  4. My so-called liberal/progressive friends have already tuned me out.  ‘Outrage’ fatigue I think.  I don’t know why it doesn’t bother them; perhaps because the truth is too hard to accept.

    I think I need to bone up on how to convince/persuade people, rather than assuming that if I lay out all the facts everyone will just come around

  5. Why, exactly, is impeachment “off the table”?

    Where’s The Hague when we need it?

    And who keeps voting for these assholes?


    • srkp23 on April 15, 2008 at 03:54

    Yes, we are a nation that tortures. We always have been. Now it’s just out in the bright light of day and being, as you say, officially, publicly institutionalized. People won’t get it through their heads because they believe this nostalgic clap-trap that the US used to be a great country that never did this kind of thing–and so it’s just so horrific! and aberrant! and OMG, what’s happened to America!

    As for those who are in charge of holding these criminals accountable … the whole system is implicated in it, so there will be no accountability. For example, Nancy and other Ds were briefed; Bill Clinton started the rendition program; HRC has agreed, iirc, with her husband that there are “ticking time-bomb scenarios” in which torture is required an effective. Ha!

  6. people across America don’t understand that the US tortures.  Maybe they’re distracted, or asleep, or watching American Idol, or listening to the radio.  Maybe people have missed the fact that the US tortures.  Maybe they’re drugged or hypnotized or watching the ballgame.  Maybe people don’t know that it’s a fact that the US tortures.  Maybe people just don’t care.

    Hard to explain why we’re not all in the streets shouting.  Hard to explain why everything hasn’t been shut down until there’s regime change.  Hard to explain why the electoral process continues but doesn’t discuss torture.

    When people look back on the Bush Administration, they’ll probably say, “Well, at least the television ran on time.”


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