Above the Law?

Listening to the television this week, I was horrified to hear the various arguments against investigating Bush administration officials who authorized torture techniques. “It would only become a partisan free-for-all.” “Why go after them when they were merely trying to provide for the nation’s security?” “It would only distract us from the economy.” And the worst of all came from Mr. Cheney himself, like a burst of stale air from a crypt: “We were able to gather good information.”

“My God!” I shouted at the screen. “That’s it! There it is! Right there!” In the mind of Dick Cheney and his fellow neo-cons, the ends always justify the means. And of course their justification is an attempt to implicate the rest of us as well: i.e., “We did it to make you safe.”

Of course, providing for the common defense is the first duty of any government. But anyone versed in interrogation knows that information extracted through torture is highly unreliable. So what if they happened to get lucky? Do we want this country to be known as the Land of the Free and the Home of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques? Would you want your son to be treated that way if he were captured by an enemy? That is essentially what we are saying to the world. “It’s okay to commit any crime against humanity as long as it makes you secure.” Hitler’s henchmen are smiling right now.

But ironically, torture has not made the U.S. more secure. In fact, it has become a rallying point for Islamic extremists the world over, justifying their jihad against the Great Satan. And what’s more, they have won a key victory if they have made us compromise our sacred principles and the rule of law in the name of national security.

But let’s be charitable for a moment. It must have been frighteningly tense in Washington those first several months after 9-11. Nearly three thousand people had lost their lives. The White House itself was almost attacked, and no one knew where the next strike would come from. Authorizing torture may have seemed like Hobson’s choice. People can do almost anything out of fear. Unfortunately, what they chose was neither morally right nor in the nation’s best interest. A painful legacy that we must now sort through—unless, as many politicians are advising us, we just kick some sand over it and move on. But there is not enough sand or litter-box perfume to bury this mess, not forever.

But why are we talking about stringing up lawyers or CIA officials? These are but sheep. We know who the real culprits are. But if we’ve learned anything about Washington over the past few years, it’s this: 1) only little people pay taxes; and 2) the higher you go in leadership, the more you are above the law. Where’s Steven Seagal when you need him?

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4 Comments

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  1. Now THAT is a fitting picture of Cheney! I gotta get me one of those.Seriously, now the Right is claiming how sucessful they were in keeping us from being attacked the last seven years. Like the Iraq War, the Right always has this problem with timelines.Claim: “We kept you safe the last seven years.”Retort: “You ignored the warning signs leading up to 9/11 that led to our being attacked in the first place!”Claim: “The surge in Iraq worked.”Retort: “Thanks to you we were involved in a war we didn’t need to be involved in which required a strategy to reduce the violence that your negligence help ignite in the first place!”What a group!

  2. Steve, I’ve read several of your posts were you, from time to time, sprinkle in some comment alluding to your lack of political bias. Nice try. It’s pretty clear thatyou are a politically slanted Bush/Cheney basher. Your choice of photo for Dick Cheney, a hero of this nation proves the point.How about a few posts on the torture, murder, and mayhem perpetrated by radical Muslims?

  3. Actually, Ralph, I don't care much for either party. They're pretty much the same in the big picture. A corporate Democrat like Obama won't be much of a change. As an American what offends me to the core is the influence of corporate greed and special interests in government. And that is an issue that taints both parties.Re. the Cheney photo, to be fair, the Pelosi photo was even worse.Thanks for your comments.

  4. PS- The reason I do not take the jihadists to task is because I take seriously what Jesus says about taking the log out of my eye first before I criticize others. I do not believe we have the right to lecture other nations about torture, brutality, oppression and violence until we first deal with our own. Then and only then will we be taken seriously. Otherwise, we are nothing short of hypocritical.

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