Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Larry Wilkerson on Cheney and Rumsfeld

Under Bush, the United States is losing its influence in the world. I'm not sure whether Bush is interested in salvaging his reputation or not, or whether he'll continue his right wing nonsense to the bitter end. Standing behind Cheney and Rumsfeld, the two men most responsible for the unraveling of his presidency, is ultimately, of course, the responsibility of Bush. Still, the option remains of saving some shred of his presidency by unloading those two characters.

Larry Wilkerson continues his months-long critique of the Bush Admininistration in this post on Nieman Watchdog (linked by Dan Froomkin) that discusses the curious history of torture under Bush where so many people eventually got into trouble for using the same methods:
...These two pressures were, on the one hand, the understandable pressure to produce intelligence as rapidly as possible, and on the other hand, the creation of an environment best described as "the gloves coming off" -- or better, the gloves ARE off. The Bybee memorandum's description of torture as organ failure or beyond gave officials an out when answering questions about "Did we do torture?"

When an official said “no”, he or she meant that we did not do organ failure. Of course, with 136 deaths in detention and counting--and with 25 or more now confirmed as homicides--even that admission by that standard is now false.

(snip)

A variety of people in a variety of units, in different locations at different times with different groups of detainees (a majority of whom, in every place, indisputably were innocent of being terrorists), handled by soldiers, Marines, CIA, and contractors (though the reports looks principally at the military), abused and even murdered detainees. Why did they do it? Can the behavior of such disparate groups, across all areas and all three Services, be explained by any other theory other than that they all thought they were doing what they were supposed to do – and had a plausible reason to think so? Add to this that, since Church's report, we have discovered more deaths, more homicides, and more cases of abuse, and one must ask even more strongly, if there is no apparent explanation that fits them all, isn't it highly plausible that the cause that does fit is policy, official or otherwise? And the reason we only have hundreds of cases and not thousands is the basic decency of the American fighting man and woman -- and their leaders -- most of whom refused to follow this policy?

America's ability to criticize the human rights records of other countries has seriously been damaged by our activities over the last five years. We can hardly discuss with a straight face the need for reform in other countries given Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. These are not abstractions. We have been told repeatedly that bringing democracy to the Middle East was going to be Bush's legacy. But real life bears little resemblance to TV thrillers like 24; when people are tortured, they will tell their tormentors whatever they want to hear and a government that takes such nonsense seriously (nonsense it half invents with its own questions) will be chasing shadows and chimeras for years to come.

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