Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Grand Inquisitor

Hard to believe I’m writing this, but John Ashcroft was the smartest guy in the room back in spring 2002. This was when Dick Cheney, who must think he’s running for worst man in North America or something, put together a group in the White House, consisting of Ashcroft, George Tenet, Colin Powell, and Condolezza Rice, to decide about what sort of “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be accepted by the United States in the future. According to the Washington Post, these four, Cheney, and Bush “virtually choreographed… the blows, deprivation of sleep, and the simulated drowning called ‘waterboarding’.” Not to mention “stress positions”, freezing rooms, and eventually the sort of wink & nudge environment that facilitated sexual assault, beating to death, electric shocks, and at least a dozen homicides in US custody during questioning to date. Not the work of a few bad apples after all. Ashcroft is quoted as having said at the time, “Why are we talking about these things at the White House? History will not judge us very favorably.” It’s probably the smartest thing he ever said. If Reagan was the “great communicator”, will Bush be remembered as the Grand Inquisitor?

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