Saturday, September 16, 2006

In the land of the waterboard, the home of the stress position 

Billmon writes the Great line of the day:
. . . The sadistic and/or bizarre acts committed in Guatanamo, Abu Ghraib and the CIA's secret prisons can be written off as the crimes of a few bad apples with names like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- or, more charitably, as the consequences of a string of bad and brutal decisions made under emergency conditions by men who were terrified by all the things they didn't know about Al Qaeda . . .[but] the question is now formally on the table:
Does Congress really want to make the United States the first nation on earth to specifically provide domestic legal sanction for what would properly and universally be seen as a transparent breach of the minimum, baseline standards for civilized treatment of prisoners? . . .
The answer, at the moment, appears to be yes . . . So now we'll find out, I guess, what we're really made of as a nation -- down deep, in our core . . . What this amounts to (and what Powell was really complaining about) is the final decommissioning of the myth of American exceptionalism -- once one of the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Without it, we're just another paranoid empire obsessed with our own security and willing to tell any lie or repudiate any self-proclaimed principle if we think it will make us even slightly safer.
To put it mildly, this is not the kind of flag the rest of the world is likely to rally around, no matter how frantically we wave it.
Emphasis mine.
There have been times in the past when America found itself drowning in a moral swamp -- when Pinkertons and police were beating up unionists in the 30s, when governors were using watercannons and worse on the peace and civil rights demonstrations of the 60s -- and always before there was a vigorous American opposition to such abuses, led by fearless writers and philosophers and politicians and clergy, in whom the best part of America and the world could still believe.
Who will now stand against torture?

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