Monday, April 27, 2009

The Banality of Bush White House Evil.

What I find astonishing with every day which passes since Bush left office, is the degree to which American journalism appears to be waking up with a dreadful hangover, and asking themselves just what exactly took place.

Perhaps it's the fact that Obama released the four OLC memos, which make it impossible for any reasonable person to fail to come to the conclusion that the US indulged in systemic torture, but, whatever is bringing this about, it's a welcome change from the brainwashed press reaction of the past number of years.

Frank Rich, in today's New York Times, talks of how Americans used to take comfort from the belief that "bad apples" like Lynndie England and Charles Graner had harmed their country's reputation through their own evil acts, and how it is becoming more impossible with each day that passes to pretend that there is even a sliver of truth in that.

It now transpires, and Rich focuses on it here, that there was a much darker reason as to why the US indulged in torture and it is one which puts the Bush administration in a position that even I, speaking as someone who always loathed them, would never have believed they could have sunk to.

There was nothing gained from the US waterboarding the mentally ill Abu Zubaydah 83 times, so why did the US do it? What did they hope to gain?

Meanwhile, we do have evidence for an alternative explanation of what motivated Bybee to write his memo that August, thanks to the comprehensive Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees released last week.

The report found that Maj. Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantánamo Bay that summer of 2002, told Army investigators of another White House imperative: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful.” As higher-ups got more “frustrated” at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, “there was more and more pressure to resort to measures” that might produce that intelligence.

In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections.
So, they were being tortured not to produce information, but to produce disinformation, to make the case for a war which Bush and Cheney were determined to wage, and they needed something more solid than their WMD argument which wasn't proving as strong as they had hoped.

I wrote about this a couple of days ago, but the reason I return to it again is because Frank Rich is talking about this in The New York Times. The lid has finally been lifted on the Bush regime and their crimes.

And Rich isn't shy about addressing the lessons which we are learning here:

Levin also emphasized the report’s accounts of military lawyers who dissented from White House doctrine — only to be disregarded. The Bush administration was “driven,” Levin said. By what? “They’d say it was to get more information. But they were desperate to find a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.”

Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.
And the conclusion which Rich comes to is the one which many of us have been calling for for a long time:

Levin suggests — and I agree — that as additional fact-finding plays out, it’s time for the Justice Department to enlist a panel of two or three apolitical outsiders, perhaps retired federal judges, “to review the mass of material” we already have. The fundamental truth is there, as it long has been. The panel can recommend a legal path that will insure accountability for this wholesale betrayal of American values.

President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don’t need another commission. We don’t need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
I have always suspected that what Obama hoped to do by releasing the memos was to cause such public outrage that prosecutions became inevitable. Whether that was or was not his intention, it is certainly the way things are beginning to play out.

The picture is emerging of an administration who tortured people in order to falsify evidence and create the groundwork for an illegal war.

It's a worse charge than even the regime's staunchest critics would ever have dared to have made. And yet that is where the evidence now leads. It is becoming impossible to believe that such dreadful crimes - carried out for such an ignoble purpose - could ever go unpunished.


Reading this article by Joe Wilson it suddenly occurred to me that I feel terribly stupid at the moment.

I feel like one of those wives married to a serial adulterer who still has the capacity to be surprised as each new infidelity is exposed. But it honestly never occurred to me that that the Bush regime - who I held in the deepest contempt - could actually have committed those acts of torture for such a cynical reason.

It literally takes my breath away.

Click title for Rich's article.

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