Monday, April 21, 2008

Bush knew about the "principals meetings"...

I want you to imagine something for me.

I want you to imagine that the Bush administration had a very small, tightly targeted "enhanced interrogation techniques" program. Only the worst of the worst, determined by strong evidence, would be in the least bit eligible.

I don't believe this, but let's just imagine that, okay?

This means that the people who've been beaten to death in US custody were not ordered to be beaten by the administration. The administration should have had those people arrested and jailed to prove that "The US does not torture" as per the words of George W. Bush. Further, let's pretend that the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were not, in fact, ordered (or overlooked) by the Bush administration. Let's pretend that it was a bottom-up phenomena, and, again, the administration should have come down on the offenders with both feet to cut out the rot before it poisoned the military.

Well, guess what? They couldn't. Because if they investigated, and dug in deep, determined to cut out the rot, to chase it as far and as high as it went, they'd end up at the White House, having to admit that, yes, they talked torture there. But, no, really, they didn't authorize beatings that could end up killing people, or the widespread abuse at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib! Because, after all, who would believe them?

One of the common memes that's spread around is the scornful claim that "hah! Torture! We've only waterboarded three people!" as if anyone but the Bush administration knows if that's true.

But the fact of the matter is, even if the Bush administration had been telling the truth about their intentions, and about their actions, once they walked down the path to torture, they made absolutely sure that neither they, nor we, would ever know the whole truth, because they could no longer investigate allegations of torture fully... because doing so would reveal their own acts... including the knowledge, and hence, complicity, of the President himself.

Even the most loyal Republican who thinks the best of the Bushies should, at this point, be recognizing how egregiously stupid his delving into "enhanced interrogtation techniques" was, and how harmful it was to our national character, even if the Bush administration's program was as limited as they claim. Because it set up a situation in which torture could no longer be investigated fully.

I, of course, don't think it was as limited as they claim. I think the beatings got a wink and a nod, and I think the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were orchestrated from the top down. But even if we pretend that they were limited, we still end up with a horrible, and entirely foreseeable, mess.

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