I Disagree

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I read Answering the Past by mcjoan today, where she quotes Digby on the possibilities of holding those in power accountable for their crimes.

The crux of Digby’s view:

Sadly, if history is any indication, that is highly unlikely to happen.

mcjoan makes the point that some things are just too big and ugly to sweep under the carpet.  She also reports on what Obama said to George Stephanopoulos on This Week about Bob Fertik’s question on whether or not there will be a special prosecutor.  I found this part of Obama’s response particularly interesting:

And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering.

Now that’s a surprise.  I wonder if perchance anyone from the CIA has been yelling at Obama that if he tries to really investigate their goings on there will be a price to pay.

Could it be something along the lines of what Mark Lowenthal is warning?

“If Panetta starts trying to feed people to that commission (ed. a congressional commission), his tenure at C.I.A. will be over,” said Mark M. Lowenthal, a former senior C.I.A. official and an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

“If it happens, C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president, but they are going to withdraw from taking risks, and then the C.I.A. becomes useless to the president,” Mr. Lowenthal said.

Holding those in power accountable for their crimes is an uphill battle, no one would argue that.

Where I have problems, both with Digby and mcjoan, is the approach taken to those battles, the notion that anyone can predict at this point whether it is “likely” or “unlikely” to happen.

Because that battle depends upon the citizens of this country, not our elected representatives.

We already know our elected representatives will not fight this fight on their own, without our voice being heard.

That is no longer worth discussion, I think.

I would not strongly object to both Digby and mcjoan’s posts if they had warned of all the obstacles in the way of our holding these crooks accountable for their crimes, seeing that they, like any other American citizen, were given a fair trial, that we as a nation resolve that no one is above the law.

But that’s not what is being said here.  What is being said is “oh, perhaps this won’t happen … because of X, Y, Z,” and then listing those obstacles.

I hope I am making myself perfectly clear.

There are enormous obstacles in this battle for justice.  And there are enormous stakes involved as well.  This is not a matter of “Answering the Past.”  This is still going on and unless the citizens of this country rise up and put a stop to crimes against humanity, human rights abuses, it will continue to go on, it will not be a matter of something that happened in the past.

In her post, mcjoan speaks of other crimes those in power in the United States have done which have been swept under the carpet – slavery, the internment of US citizens of Japanese descent during WWII, the genocide of Native Americans.

What she does not mention is that there are still folks fighting to right those wrongs as well, and there always will be.  Those battles are not over, precisely because they have been swept under the rug, and people have suffered and are suffering because of that.

There are those with great power that we must confront.  There is no certainty as to the outcome of this battle except that it will never cease to be fought as long as these kinds of injustices occur.  What is certain is that we as citizens are the only ones who can bring this battle to the halls of power, we are the ones who will have to stand up and say “No, this is not going to pass, we are not going to allow the law to be applied only to those who cannot bring enough power to escape it.”

In the fight against torture, there is no middle ground.  There is no safe intellectual distance where one can place odds on whether this fight will or will not succeed.  There is only the fight, and those who will fight as long as necessary to see justice is done.

That commitment is something none of us can avoid, even if we stick our heads in the sand and say we don’t see it.

Please sign the petitition to AG designate Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes by the Bush Administration.  We can never give up on this.  When it comes to torture, there is no middle ground.

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  1. … at orange.


    If you investigate us, we will go on strike and stop protecting the country.


    • Edger on January 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I just sent you an email with code in case you want this to be repostable everywhere in the world. 😉

    • kj on January 11, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    one of the downs sides of not living in the belly of Rural Wingerville is i can no longer take the pulse of the citizenship on a daily basis.  so it is with both dread and hope that i view the few weekends spent back in the belly.

    semi-topical story:

    m-i-l’s oldest brother is a semi-famous veteran of WWII.  still alive and active and respected.  so, she is sort of obsessed with WWII and spends a bit of time chatting about those days.   jbk and i sort of work as a tag-team in these situations, leading each other along with one sentences.  so we listen to m-i-l and then i casually say, “WWII, the ‘last good war.”  she says, “Yes.”  s-i-l chimes in about the horrors of the Japanese and basically, the horrors of ‘other’ cultures.  i counter with something about ‘how different cultures view life and death.’  she counters again by the horrors of the Japanese.  (we ignore the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because, well, it’s just too obvious.) jbk says something about what the Geneva Convention’s intent was, and how that has been abandoned.  silence.  i say, “We’ve learned nothing.”  silence.  then my m-i-l turns and looks me in the eye and says, “We really haven’t.”

    end of discussion.

  3. Courageous insiders. People with their integrity and consciences intact who have stuck out the horrors of this administration. People brave enough to come forward with what they know, either anonymously or not. People who have had the sense to copy what they were asked to shred and burn once they realized what it entailed.

    • sharon on January 12, 2009 at 3:40 am

    i was thinking many similar thoughts and feeling frustrated with mcjoan today.  it is also annoying to me that the focus is on conyers’ resolution rather than nadler’s which requests a special prosecutor and a commission.  nadler prefers a special prosecutor but will settle for a commmission if that is all we get.  i am hoping that he will consider diarying at dkso and building energy behind his resolution.  

    • Valtin on January 12, 2009 at 9:14 am

    In politics, mcjoan and digby (and those many who think like them) should be called by what they are (on this issue), “defeatists.”

    They have run up the white flag and told the public to go home, nothing to be done here.

    They should be ashamed.

    • kj on January 12, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    a good case here, NPK, for citizen empowerment.

    pols?  don’t, won’t trust them, again.

  4. if the CIA as an institution does in fact have the same functionality Americans might think it does.  It is after all a GloboCorp Globo-fascist world and things are changing.  Those old bastions of power and eliteness like Switzerland are even giving way to the new financial centers of the world like Dubai.

    I do see the torture issue as sort of a compromise/diversionary issue as I am fully convinced of US high level government involvement and coverup of 911.  I would much rather see them go to jail for that.

  5. Johnathon Turley and KO last night and they talked a lot about the Gestapo Excuse the I was just following orders. He said they should go after the architects that called this legal. John Woo and Gonzo and all the others who said go ahead it’s legal. He also made a good point about international law. How can this new administration break the laws and then expect to sign treaties, or rejoin the rest of the world as far as international law is concerned. More then a question of the past, as it is basically the same old Empirical Presidency that these fuckers have been trying for since Nixon. Same nasty players too. I agree it is up to people, it’s not politics beyond politics. Bush yesterday admitted in his insane rambling farewell he tortured. He was given a list and said go ahead.      

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