Monday, August 31, 2009
Chris Wallace: Chief Stooge
It's been fascinating to watch the torture apologists as they have progressively changed their rationale for defending the brutal, illegal "enhanced interrogation techniques" of the Cheney regime. First, they told us that it simply wasn't torture. That all we did was turn the music up a little loud, disturb the detainee's beauty sleep, and scare them with harmless insects. Remember Huckabee laughing about how he had seen scarier bugs in some of the hotels he'd stayed in down south? But then it became clear that waterboarding, wall slaps, stress positions, mock executions are actually...well, forms of torture according to international and American law. So they changed. Rather they backed off a bit. Call it torture, they said, but it (they prefer to call it EIT's) was conducted "safely", under the auspices of the dictates of the memos from the Office of Legal Counsel. There was a legal protocol. Nothing was done outside that protocol, they stated. But then it became clear that the OLC memos were created in bad faith, that there was political pressure from the executive branch to retrospectively provide legal cover for a torture program that had already been decided upon. And in this exchange, we see proof from the monster himself that the OLC memos were entirely irrelevant.
WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?
CHENEY: I am
So then the apologists retreated once again to the final bulwark; that the EIT's or torture or whatever you liberal pansies want to call it was effective. Now I've written about (as have many many others) the inadequacy of a strict "any ends justifies the means" philosophy of action before. When we allow state-run torture, we concede the dictum that anything is allowable. Torture knows no limits. If we can torture, we can do whatever we want, irrespective of the rule of law and human decency. As the recent CIA documents show, we staged mock executions and threatened detainees with the rape and murder of family members. What if a suspect holds out despite the threat of such atrocities? What is the next step? What would our limits be? What would we do to get them to say what we wanted them to say? It's chilling to contemplate...
The "effectiveness" of the torture program will never be known. Certainly some crucial intelligence was gleaned from suspects waterboarded. But not all our detainees were high level Al Qaeda operatives. Many were young men rounded up on the fields of Afghanistan. Not every detainee held crucial ticking time bomb information that only torture would release. And even those high level detainees (KSM, Abu Zubaydah) gave plenty of intelligence via standard interrogation techniques. The recent CIA documents do not differentiate the relative effectiveness of torture vs. legal interrogation methods. The evidence isn't there. Even Cheney knows it. And how does one wade through the mounds of unreliable intelligence that torture reaps? When your prisoner will say whatever it takes to make the pain or psychological torment stop, how do you determine which data is valid, and which is superfluous? Again, the CIA documents fail to provide a helpful algorithm.
So here we are, several months into the scandal and it's still considered "controversial" that our current Administration would dare to launch an investigation of our previous torture policies. It's partisanship, they say. Obama is just trying to score some points. We still have stooges like the Washington Post and Chris Wallace and FoxNews claiming everything was legal and, besides, it saved American lives. You all should shut up and be thankful that we took on the burden of torture to protect your soft, liberal weakling asses!
It's sad, really. It's sad to watch our moral spirit be degraded to such an extent. The fact that this has devolved into an actual debate, that we are actually debating whether or not a state-run, bureaucratized torture program was a good thing, is just heartbreaking. I'm embarassed. And to watch Chris Wallace in the clip above, retorting that "it's just a coincidence" that we haven't had another 9/11 since Cheney decided to torture suspects, implying that torture is the fundamental linchpin in protecting us from another attack, well, I would think that given the chance, those 4500 American soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan would beg to differ, that they died instead for the idea of a United States of America that stands for freedom, liberty, democracy, and the rule of law. And this is the tragedy of the Cheney regime--- this dark legacy which casts a shadowy pall over the memories of our brave men and women overseas.