Friday, November 04, 2005

The Sleep of Reason

This is why I took a break from commenting on politics in this dark and foul time- it's just too depressing:

International Herald Tribune:
Vice President Dick Cheney's office was responsible for directives that led to U.S. soldiers' abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former top State Department official said Thursday.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, told National Public Radio he had traced a trail of memos and directives authorizing questionable detention practices up through Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's staff.

"The secretary of defense under cover of the vice president's office," Wilkerson said, "regardless of the president having put out this memo" - "they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen."

"There was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense, down to the commanders in the field," authorizing practices that led to the abuse of detainees, Wilkerson said.

It's just hard to care anymore. It's hard to see politics as something that we all engage in to work towards a better future, and not as something that we watch from a position of helplessness trying to choke back the vomit and tears. The man in the picture at the top was a 47-year old Iraqi patriarch who was tortured to death in US custody last Spring. It was a big news story last May, but who cares now, right? Incidentally, last May, USA Today reported that 15 of the 37 prisoners who had died in US custody since December 2002 had been tortured to death. But, again, who cares? Just a few bad apples. A few frat-style pranks.

"I think our policies required torture. There were freaking horrible things people were doing. I saw (detainees) who had feet smashed with hammers. One detainee told me that he had been forced by Marines to sit on an exhaust pipe and he had a softball sized blister to prove it."
-Anthony Lourganis, former Army specialist, this week.

Afghanistan: One soldier, Private First Class Willie Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths in Afghanistan, another army document showed. Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of killing him after maiming him over a five-day period by "destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes", according to the Times.

And on and on it goes.

A few good apples:

Andrew Sullivan has been inspiring in waging the good fight against torture.

Capt. Ian Fishback is a true hero.

"This isn't about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies." -Sen. John McCain

Incidentally, House Republicans are succeeding in killing off McCain's bill which would ban torture. Yes, they're fighting to preserve torture. 200 years after the Enlightenment.

What is there to believe in anymore when the country I love and grew up in has decided that it's acceptable to torture people to death? People will say that they had no idea this was going on in twenty years when the history books are being written. But, the information is all out there. But, they're too busy rooting for their side in this idiotic political football game. The Democrats just hate the other side out of hand without appealing to any sort of universal ethical imperatives. It's not that torture is innately immoral- it's that Republicans are all evil. The Republicans meanwhile appeal to universal ethical imperatives for everyone else but themselves. But, fuck, torture is fucking evil. Even if it was Mother Teresa torturing Hitler to death, it's still an immoral act. Aristotle said that immoral means corrupt even the most moral ends.

So, now what?

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