Wednesday, May 27, 2015

dismembering democracy

To my mind, you have to set aside the revulsion or delight that can attend on the "Frontline" investigation of America's policy of torture if you want to feel the body blow that that policy dealt in the name of democracy.

The program is 54-plus minutes long and thus not for the Twitter or Facebook crowd.

I watched it first yesterday and, as is often the case with the program topics, I came away feeling dirty and demeaned by the other terrorists -- the ones claiming to protect my country from terrorism. "The United States does not torture," George Bush, the president of the United States, said in an address to Congressional leaders and hence the world. He lied ... or at any rate hid behind the Jesuitical skirts of an indecent law, acceded to by Congress, that permitted torture where the international community called it illegal.

The horror of what was done to prisoners was bad enough so that in one report, the interrogators themselves turned away or vomited. And the bald fact came out again and again -- torture, by whatever name, did not provide the information the torturers and their minders hoped to elicit in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, demolition of the World Trade towers and other high-value targets.

Torture didn't work.

Torture was illegal.

"The United States does not torture" and it destroyed the tapes that documented that torture. The Congress approved a law that gave immunity to all those engaged, in whatever capacity, in what the president of the greatest democracy in the world said the United States did not engage in.

The demolitions of Sept. 11, 2001, were frightening. To allay that fear, something had to be done. And from there, it was a short step to the cottage industry -- in which the United States invested millions, if not billions of dollars -- of a loosely-defined-but-politically-nourishing world of "terrorism."

Even John McCain, (R-Arizona), a Vietnam POW and somewhat addled conservative looked over the evidence and refused to support those trying to skirt the "torture" label. He is shown in the program, walking away and voice-over-quoted as saying something like, "It looks like torture to me."

OK ... there is the horror or, if you prefer, the delight, at the counterpunch that "enhanced interrogation techniques" seems to fulfill. "It's a war," one supporter says approximately. "Bad things happen in war."

Yes ... and yet there is some small voice that begs to believe in the decency of my country. Don't we stand for something and isn't that something worth nourishing? I cross my fingers and scrinch my eyes shut like a wishful five-year-old .... please, please, please, please, please ....

But the only sound I hear is the squeaking pulley as the polished and adroit raise yet another American flag.

Bit by bit and drip by drip, the exceptionalist patriots sell out my country for the swagger and swag of their indecencies.

1 comment:

  1. A civilized people would not engage in war. But we argue for the nobility of a warfare state rather than a welfare state. It boggles my mind.