A Good Week On Torture Accountability

Okay so the Dog has not been around this week (if you care he has been at Caterpillar Production System for Dealers training, which is a 6 Sigma Lean methodology for transforming value streams instead of single processes. Everyone’s eyes glazed over yet?) so of course it is likely that most of the hot topics have been blogged to death, but cut a hound some slack as he sits at O’Hare waiting for his flight home, eh?  

The things in this weeks news is generally good on the torture issue front. Yes, President Obama did backslide on his position about releasing the abuse (since we don’t think they will show torture) pictures. However it is a kind of a “Don’t throw me in the briar patch Bra’r Fox!” move. What the president is doing is buying some political good will from his rebellious and fractious Military and Intelligence structure. The reality is the new line of thinking he has outlined is going to get no where with the Courts, so he gets to a “You tried” from this Intel and Military guys, while doing just about nothing in terms of delaying the release of the pictures. Would the Dog like it to be different? Sure, as would most of the Accountability advocates, but in the grand scheme of things it is understandable from a President who likes to make these types of chess moves.

The Republicans, lead by Dick Cheney have really put themselves in a box by trying to rope the Democratic Leadership into the ranks of the torture criminals.  They have put the Speaker of the House in a position that aligns with what the Democratic base wants. Like so many things the Gopasuars do these days, it is a short term tactic which is going to cost them hugely in the long term. We know the White House does not really want Congress distracted by investigations into the Bush era State Sponsored Torture program. The Republicans, in pushing the meme that Speaker Pelosi was briefed on these programs so she would need to be investigated was a major miscalculation.

It looks as though the Speaker is now sure of the dates and what she was told. She is calling out the CIA directly and the Republicans indirectly on the issue. There are some on the Dog’s side of things who have said in the past that the Democratic Leadership during the Bush torture era had to be complicity and this was why there was not more movement on accountability. The Dog has never held this as a strong belief. We know the criminal Bush administration had gone out of its way to adhere to the letter of the law on oversight, while doing everything it could to subvert the intent. Given that AG Gonzales lied, under oath, on TV to the Congress it is not that hard to believe they would lie even more aggressively in briefings which can not be discussed or even notes taken on.  

Now they have pissed her off to the point where she is willing to strike back. It is one thing for the White House to put pragmatic pressure on the Speaker to keep her aligned with them and not worry about what the base thinks, it is quite another to try to keep her from defending herself and gaining points with the base at the same time. Look for this to yet another deflection point in the trend towards accountability.

Finally this week we have evidence of a point about torture the Dog has been making as long as he has been writing about it; namely that no matter how tightly (if wrongly) justified and controlled torture starts out, it always spreads. The revelation that after we have conquered Iraq, someone in the office of the Vice President was suggesting torture for Iraqi Prisoners of War is clear support for the Dog’s premise.  Once you have taken the absolute prohibition off of torture, the level at which you are willing to rationalize it only falls. We started out with fear of another 9/11, but it quickly became an operational intelligence gathering tool for Iraq (Abu Ghrab abuses were obviously ordered. They may not have raised to the level of out and out torture but they were part of the program) and then we see the willingness of the Excusive Branch to order waterboarding (torture under US and International law) to pry self-justifying statements out of POW’s.

We are likely to see more of these revelations as time goes on. This is inevitable given the nature of torture. Those willing to use it keep coming back to it. There is a saying “If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail”. This saying is especially true for the criminal Bush administration, they only had two solutions, War and torture for the problems which confronted them in Foreign policy and that is what they used to try to solve them. These revelations are going to keep fanning the fires and calls for accountability.

There will be set back on our fight for the Rule of Law and accountability, but when we have weeks where the tide moves in our directions overall we need to take a moment to recognize them. We are not done, frankly we are not half way yet, but we are making progress in the hardest of our challenges, swaying public opinion enough to get investigations and prosecutions. To the point the Dog would like to suggest a new avenue of attack. We need to start hammering the media outlets to drop the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” as the euphemism for torture. Waterboarding is torture, under our statutes and under International law. We know waterboarding happened, so there is no reason why “enhanced interrogation techniques” should be used without, at the very least the modification of “so-called”. Far better they start calling it by its criminal name. After all we would not call bank robbery “unauthorized universal withdrawals”  would we? Next week the Dog is going to post a plan of attack for getting to the editors of media outlets and try to force a change of standard usage. The change from insurgency to Civil War by the traditional media was a major watershed in the view of the Iraq war, we need the same kind of change if we are to bring the rest of the public along on the issue of torture.

So, even with his head sloshing with Takt times, Rapid Improvement Workshops, the 8 types of Waste, the 15 Principals and other Lean manufacturing terms the Dog sees this a week to put in the win column. What do you think?

The floor is yours.

Cross Posted At Square State


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  1. talking about progress over perfection, this is something we on the accountability side of things should think about too.  

  2. When the skies are brighter canary yellow

    I forget ev’ry cloud I’ve ever seen,

    So they called me a cockeyed optimist

    Immature and incurably green.

    I have heard people rant and rave and bellow

    That we’re done and we might as well be dead,

    But I’m only a cockeyed optimist

    And I can’t get it into my head.

    I hear the human race

    Is fallin’ on its face

    And hasn’t very far to go,

    But ev’ry whippoorwill

    Is sellin’ me a bill,

    And tellin’ me it just ain’t so.

    I could say life is just a bowl of Jello

    And appear more intelligent and smart,

    But I’m stuck like a dope

    With a thing called hope,

    And I can’t get it out of my heart!

    Not this heart…

    South Pacific

    • kj on May 16, 2009 at 13:20

    We are not done, frankly we are not half way yet, but we are making progress in the hardest of our challenges, swaying public opinion enough to get investigations and prosecutions.

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