Wednesday, November 02, 2005

How Can We Live With Ourselves?

We stood by while George Bush led us off to war, we tolerate all the prisoners in Guantanamo, we allow corporations to pillage our pensions and payrolls, and we don't say much about the 2,032 dead in Iraq.

Bob Herbert's column reveals atrocities that make us look like the complicit Germans who saw the smoke coming from the stacks and said nothing.

How much is it gonna take for us to snap out of it?

The New York Times
November 3, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
Secrets and Shame

Ultimately the whole truth will come out and historians will have their say, and Americans will look in the mirror and be ashamed.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of the "better angels" of our nature. George W. Bush will have none of that. He's set his sights much, much lower.

The latest story from the Dante-esque depths of this administration was front-page news in The Washington Post yesterday. The reporter, Dana Priest, gave us the best glimpse yet of the extent of the secret network of prisons in which the C.I.A. has been hiding and interrogating terror suspects. The network includes a facility at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe.

"The hidden global internment network is a central element in the C.I.A.'s unconventional war on terrorism," wrote Ms. Priest. "It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the C.I.A.'s covert actions."

The individuals held in these prisons have been deprived of all rights. They don't even have the basic minimum safeguards of prisoners of war. If they are being tortured or otherwise abused, there is no way for the outside world to know about it. If some mistake has been made and they are, in fact, innocent of wrongdoing - too bad.

As Ms. Priest wrote, "Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long."

This is the border along which democracy bleeds into tyranny.

Some of the prisoners being held by the C.I.A. are no doubt murderous individuals who, given the opportunity, would do tremendous harm. There are others, however, whose links to terrorist activities are dubious at best, and perhaps nonexistent.

The C.I.A.'s original plan was to hide and interrogate maybe two or three dozen top leaders of Al Qaeda who were directly involved in the Sept. 11 attacks or were believed to pose an imminent threat. It turned out that many more people were corralled by the C.I.A. for one reason or another. Their terror ties and intelligence value were less certain. But they were thrown into the secret prisons, nevertheless.

A number of current and former officials told The Washington Post that "the original standard for consigning suspects to the invisible universe was lowered or ignored."

The secret C.I.A. prisons are just one link in the long chain of abominations that the Bush administration has unrolled in its so-called fight against terrorism. Rendition, the outsourcing of torture to places like Egypt, Jordan and Syria, is another. And then there are the thousands upon thousands of detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. There is little, if any, legal oversight of these detainees, or effective monitoring of the conditions in which they are being held.

Terrible instances of torture and other forms of abuse of detainees have come to light. The Pentagon has listed the deaths of at least 27 prisoners in American custody as confirmed or suspected criminal homicides.

None of this has given the administration pause. It continues to go out of its way to block a legislative effort by Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, to ban the "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of any prisoner in U.S. custody.

I had a conversation yesterday with Michael Posner, executive director of Human Rights First, about the secret C.I.A. prisons. "We're a nation founded on laws and rules that say you treat people humanely," he said, "and among the safeguards is that people in detention should be formally recognized; they should have access, at a minimum, to the Red Cross; and somebody should be accountable for their treatment.

"What we've done is essentially to throw away the rule book and say that there are some people who are beyond the law, beyond scrutiny, and that the people doing the detentions and interrogations are totally unaccountable. It's a secret process that almost inevitably leads to abuse."

Worse stories are still to come - stories of murder, torture and abuse. We'll watch them unfold the way people watch the aftermath of terrible accidents. And then we'll ask, "How could this have happened?"


At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lack of public outrage to all of America's current atrocities can probably be attributed the media's lack of interest in the use graphic pictures depicted dead and dying American soldiers and innocent civilians. If every day our newspapers and televisions brought the horror of war right into our living rooms, I would hope that even the hard core believers in this administration would be shamed into renouncing the current Bush/Cheney policies..

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Joe said...

The Bush Administration would not be able to get away with the criminal activity they have been doing for five and a half years without the Corporate Mainstream Media turning a blind eye and refusing to fulfill their obligation to inform the public about the atrocities including this one. For this to be a nation of the people, for the people and by the people again the powers behind America’s largest special interest group, the Mainstream Media, will need to be dethroned and a new media dedicated to reporting the truth put in its place. Simply putting the Bush Administration in prison for their crimes won’t be enough. Another group of criminals will take their place unless we have a free press again. If that sounds impossible, it isn’t. The Mainstream Media relies on advertising dollars which they get from companies buying that advertising. If we the people refuse to buy products from companies advertising on stations that refuse to expose the truth those stations will go out of business, and networks are built on local stations. If enough local stations go under the network may go under, and before they do they will do whatever it takes to stay in business even if it means changing the way they do business and firing Chairmen of the Board who stand in the way. Stockholders of the Corporations behind the networks will hold the CEOs accountable for lowered earnings. In order to achieve this we on the internet need to form an alternate media informing the majority of Americans and coordinating the boycotts of the Mainstream Media news outlets that refuse to reveal the news. They need us more than we need them. This may start with Blogs but will mean using the Internet much much more to build a nationwide grassroots effort. Let’s take back our country!

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Shifter X said...

Well what do you expext when you put Nazis in charge?



Sick, but true.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is all this so astonishing to Americans?

You have a training center that has trained people how to torture for at least two decades. School of Americas, which now has a new name.

You trained the SAVAK how to torture Iranians.

All that is happening is nothing different to how you have behaved before. What's different is that more people are learning about it because of the Internet.

What goes around, comes around. Americans have just as much evil in them as anybody else.

Question is what are civilized Americans going to do about it.

At some point you need to put your dogs back on their leashes or they will turn around and bite their owner.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what are we going to do about it?

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Christy said...

Impeach Them

Arrest Them

Frog March Their Asses To The Gallows


As spelled out in the Downing Street Memos.

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I for one am seriously questioning just what there is that "we" (the average American) CAN do, to stop our homegrown American Gestapo. "We" are NOT in control of our federal elected representatives, except on election day, and even then, only in hand-counted paper ballot jurisdictions.

Big Dick Cheney and Herr Rumsfeld, our Gestapo Brothers-In-Arms, were (per Powell's CoStaff Wilkerson on NPR yesterday) apparently in devious conflict with Bush's own NSC (Condi and Co.), nevermind the CIA, during the sale of the invasion of Iraq, and Bush mindlessly watched it happen without lifting a finger. Cheney replaces the lying Libby with a twin torturer and practitioner of unmitigated arrogance and gall, his Counsel Addison, and the beat goes on...

Meanwhile, media is prohibited from the Gaza Strip while Israel's Likudniks start sound-wave bombing those hapless, marooned Palestinians, as the neocon hearts flutter with joy. What appalls me especially, is that these neoconsters and their Likud Party enablers ought to be the MOST sensitive to NOT repeating the atrocities of the Nazis, and yet they all seem to be engaged in "me-too-ism" for Evildoer of the Century awards. And their newspaper publisher patrons (Pinch Sulzberger, Murdoch, War Profiteering Weapons Seller General Electric/NBC, and all the many others hiding in plain sight) sell our country down the river with glee. Sieg Heil, America.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, I misspelled a name in my preceding post: "...his Counsel Addison..." should read "...his Chief Counsel DAVID ADDINGTON..." A name to remember, as he is one of the chief justifiers and promoters of the ongoing prisoner torture policy of these United States, in accordance with the "Geneva Suggestions." [Adolph would understand, Mr. Addington..]


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