I have written in the past about how the US is now a torturing nation, rather than a nation that tries to stop other nations from torturing. Used to be that we would threaten sanctions against nations that tortured people, now we give them people we need information from and ask them, wink wink, to get whatever info they can from this person, but please, do not torture them to get it. God forbid.
Ronald Reagan would not sign a nuclear detente treaty with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s because the Soviets wouldn't agree to abide by the Helsinki accords (on human rights). Now, the US considers them and other protections against torture to be "quaint."
It is really sick, and the sickest thing is that most Americans don't seem to care. In fact, I would venture a guess that most Americans (and certainly most political conservatives) are perfectly happy with this. It is remarkable what happens inside this country once we get hit by our enemies. We act in such self-righteous anger that we would condemn around the world. Note that there is no dictator that I can think of in history that didn't articulate some real threat as a basis of usurping absolute power, or to engage in atrocities in their, or other countries.
Now we see a couple of trials that bring up the whole torture thing again. In Colorado, a US interrogator is on trial for killing the person he was interrogating. You won't be surprised to find out that he claims that he had at least implicit, and possibly explicit support for this conduct.
Reader Nelson wrote me about General Geoffry Miller, who was brought from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib prison to kick more ass and take more names (evidently, they were doing it too softly in Abu Ghraib until he came along from Guantanamo so he could "Gitmoize" things over there - with great success, we may add, based on the great pictures that the guards took while doing his bidding). Evidently, General Miller, who had always claimed that these soldiers like Charles Granier and Lyndie England, were acting in a rogue manner inconsistent with what they were supposed to be doing. Never mind that none of them went as far as the Office of Legal Counsel under Alberto Gonzalez, or the Justice Department under John Yoo and Jay Bybee (don't worry, he can't hurt anyone else, he's now a federal appeals court judge, just below Supreme Court level) said they could go in their infamous memos.
Well, evidently General Geoffry Miller is asserting his right to remain silent from further questioning in the trial of a former dog handler who claims that he was authorized to use dogs to scare the detainees (in direct violation, evidently, of all international "norms," norms that we used to lead, not refuse to follow).
As I have noted before, I don't think that these soldiers should necessarily get a pass or their despicable behavior. But, let's call a spade a spade, the real criminals are not the people who did their bosses bidding (and for this you have to assume that the bosses indeed bid it - to think anything to the contrary is to have completely drunk the kool-aid, though. There is no doubt that the directives came from the very highest levels of government, if not the president, then at least those directly below him in his cabinet), but the bosses themselves. I find it outrageous, and truthfully, so should ever honest person in the country, that only the foot soldiers are taking the heat for this. How can it be that no generals, no high level military leaders or Pentagon advisors are being prosecuted, or at least questioned. The level of whitewash here, all to protect our "messiah president" (as so many of his followers view him), is despicable.
The damage to America's long-term interests - political, international, but mostly, moral - is just incredible. The world watches us and follows us. What do they see now? A clear message that if you state that you are involved in a war on (fill in the blanks), the rules do not apply to you. This will filter down throughout the rest of the world, and it will be less safe and less pleasant. It will filter down throughout the country, and we will be less safe here, and people here will have less respect for the rules. Individuals will claim special circumstances to bypass every rule. After all, our leaders do it, why can't they. This mess is going to take a generation to clean up. The crisis of morality in our own society will deepen.
All from an administration that said it was going to restore honor to the White House. Sick.