Friday, September 22, 2006

Darkness descends

Greenwald, guesting @ Salon, surveys the wreckage:
The president got everything he wanted. What he calls the "program" -- and which much of the world calls "torture" -- will continue unabated, arguably even stronger, as a result of this legislative "compromise." In his celebratory statement Thursday night, the president was absolutely right when he said: "I had a single test for the pending legislation, and that's this: Would the CIA operators tell me whether they could go forward with the program, that is a program to question detainees to be able to get information to protect the American people. I'm pleased to say that this agreement preserves the most single -- most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks, and that is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets."

The White House's Dan Bartlett put it best, and most accurately, when he said: "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there." Only the Bush administration could speak of taking a "scenic route" to torture. But Bartlett's description, creepy and chilling though it may be, is not mere spin designed to make a compromising president look triumphant. Bush, in fact, did triumph and did not compromise in any meaningful sense, because the only goal he had -- to ensure that his "alternative interrogation program" would continue -- was fulfilled in its entirety as a result of this "compromise" (with the added bonus that it will even be strengthened by legal authorization from Congress).

Marty Lederman, both here and here, provides the legal and statutory analysis as to why and how the "compromise" legislation legalizes the president's torture program, and I will have more on that later. But the bottom line should not be clouded. This debate was never about legalistic disputes concerning the wording of amendments to the War Crimes Act or what phrases would be used to statutorily define "torture." What was implicated by this controversy was something much more profound and fundamental: namely, what kind of country we choose to be, and whether we will adhere to or repudiate our defining national principles and values.

If this "compromise" legislation is enacted -- and it can now be stopped only by the invisible, impotent congressional Democrats -- the United States will be a country that has formally legalized torture, and the president's "interrogation program" will continue unimpeded, with firmer legal authorization than ever before. And the American people, through our representatives in Congress, will have embraced and approved of the use of torture. Far and away, it is the impact on our national character that will be the most significant and enduring result from this "compromise."

The palace eunuchs once known as the Congressional Democrats will boldly change the subject. An almost unprecedentedly unpopular President will again get his way. Congress will sanction Bush's dictatorial sadism.

And the America that once was -- the inhabitant of the moral high ground, the aspirational archetype -- is no more. America the officially licensed thug now takes it place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Respect, like virginity, can never be reclaimed. When it's lost, it's lost for good. If there will be any saving of America, it is clear that it must take place in opposition to the inclinations of its people. These inclinations might have seemed different over the decades, but there was no final proof. Now after six years of whining, cringing and acquiesing to the basest of feelings, there can be no doubt. When neither reason, nor emotion or religion places ANY limits on ones activities, then BY DEFINITION the job of placing limits is forfeit to who or whatever picks it up. Make no mistake, limits will be placed, from the outside, and they will surely be far more severe than if those Big 'A' Americans had excercised self restraint in their fears about fear. If they are saved, it will be in spite of themselves. But... they WILL not to be saved, instead chosing rather to drown while crying "Why me?"


8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a country. Maybe you never really shake yourself free of your dubious origins.

But this: "America the officially licensed thug now takes it place."

Cheney/Bush and the young professionals may not be traveling much. Something tells me that official license will only be recognized within the walls that will surround our immigrant-proof homeland.

And I'm hoping those walls will not be emigrant-proof. For some strange reason, I want to live where justice has a chance.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America is broken. When lawlessness and lies eminate from this presidency and his administration, hope is greatly diminished. When partisanship replaces the common good, hope is lost.

Republicans must be removed from the power they usurped. It's a matter of life or death of a country.

Bush, you made a mess!

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush is a very, very bad boy. I am so upset. Why are these bad people torturing!

Bush is a very bad example of a Christian. Christians should not torture. It is happening in America. I thought we would remember the nazis so that it never happened but I guess not. This is what happens when christians worm their way into government.

Because of christians we give support to Israel. Israel treats these people very badly too. If not for the christians and their immense power we would not be doing this. christians threaten members of Congress and make them afraid that they will not get reelected if they don't support Israel.

This is very, very bad.

3:48 PM  

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