Sunday, December 9, 2007
The CIA is under investigation for destroying tapes of its enhanced interrogation techniques. "Fine!" you say? If either of the cases of the men interrogated reaches a court of law, the government will have jeopardized the legal proceedings against the alleged terrorists. The government has destroyed evidence, they've admitted it, and they've admitted that the tapes were depictions of the government obtaining "testimony" under duress--in violation of national and international law. "So what?" you say? Imagine that one of our soldiers is captured and submitted to "enhanced interrogation techniques." What moral authority--pray tell--do we appeal to?
This scandal is just the latest in a seven-year miasma of malfeasance, corruption, cronyism, criminality, graft, and murder. The United States Government is a criminal enterprise. Look at it this way: Let's say a kid knocked over a fast-food restaurant, then found out that he was videotaped doing it. Let's say that he got access to the tapes and erased them. That kid is guilty of at least one additional crime: obstruction of justice. That kid would be sentenced to a lifetime under the jail for doing that.
Officers of the CIA have done this and worse. Those tapes were government property. Your taxes and mine paid for their creation. Your taxes and mine have paid for all of it--the Iraq War, Abu Ghraib, Blackwater and on and on. It is illegal to destroy work product generated with the taxpayer's money. Everything the Bush Administration does is owned BY US because they've gotten the money to do what they've done FROM US!
A short digression...
My parents were sticklers for responsibility. My brother and I were held responsible--strictly--for everything we said and did. If we erred, we expected to pay the consequences if we were discovered. My brother and I got our "constitutional rights" at the sufferance of our parents. If we committed a crime, we'd be supported, but we'd also be expected to atone. Our parents were born black in the South before The Depression. The lessons they learned were implanted in us with the utmost emphasis. They taught us to obey the law--society's AND theirs. And--until recently--our government reinforced our parents.
The pardon of Richard Nixon began the erosion of this nation's moral proprioception. "Mr. Law And Order" got a free pass on his naked, unabashed assault on our constitutional rights and on our freedoms. But the system worked after a fashion; Congress did its duty and made sure that the rule of law prevailed to the extent possible. After Nixon, the Reagan Administration got itself embroiled in Iran-Contra--a brazen violation of the spirit and letter of American law. Congress gave Reagan a pass because they were aware of his diminished capacity and feared the demoralizing influence of another presidential impeachment. George H.W. Bush closed the circle by pardoning important figures involved in that scandal. Meanwhile, poor and minority kids were going to jail in droves for the sake of "law and order." The right has pushed merciless punishment of the aforementioned groups while letting the rich and powerful slide. OJ Simpson should have been their wake-up call but extremism knows no bounds. They pressed their increasing advantage.
George W. Bush became president because of the most astonishing, sanctioned instance of lawlessness in American history--except the War in Iraq. The Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore in 2000 is as political as it gets. The judges who denied the people of Florida the right to have their votes counted were so ashamed of their decision that they stipulated that it not be taken as precedent--meaning they admitted that this was a "one-off" special case for one of their own. The right says "get over it!" Well, I WON'T "get over it." Bush v. Gore was the signal that America had dropped the pretense of being a "nation of laws and not men." For those of you who believed that it was ever true, Native Americans and black people have a huge bone to pick with you.
Anyway, Dick Cheney--up-close and personal with the results when a Congress holds a president accountable during the Nixon administration--decides that the George W. Bush administration is going to reclaim and enhance the Imperial Presidency that Nixon was building. A long-dead French king gave us the aphorism l'etat c'est mois ("I am the state"). George W. Bush and his minions have tried--and succeeded in hideous ways--of invoking that conceit. I don't have the time or space to recount the lawlessness, venality, criminality, corruption, and callousness of the current administration. Bush avers that history will be his judge and this is one of the few things on which we agree: George W. Bush is America's Suicide Note unless our next few presidents are of Lincolnian and Rooseveltian caliber.
Illegal aliens? What law are we talking about? The law that Bush and Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo and the CIA find so inconvenient? "America doesn't torture?" Where'd that picture accompanying this post come from? Law and order? Scooter Libby sleeps at home in his own warm bed while poor bastards caught with a dime bag of weed languish in jail or in prison. U.S. attorneys are fired for carrying out their oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States instead of the Republican Thousand Year Reich. Thousands die and are wounded in Iraq for an elaborate lie and all Bush has to say is "watch this drive." Osama Bin Laden--a relative of a Bush family business partner--slaughters more people than were lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor and he lives and threatens us and serves the Bush Terror Machine to this day. Financial scams have wreaked damage on our economy, the dimensions of which we can only imagine. The United States government has been reduced to a hollow shell. No environmental protection. No consumer product safety. No assurance that the food we eat or the drugs we need are safe. An official unwillingness to regulate industries vital to our health and well-being as a nation.
And the Democrats? They continue to lay down, just as they did beginning with the Clinton Administration. Bill Clinton compromised his way out of greatness. NAFTA. Welfare reform. Same-sex relations. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council's strategy of getting Democrats elected by emulating Republicans bears some of the blame for the pass in which this nation finds itself.
But the destruction of evidence by the CIA should convince everyone of the naked truth: We are through the looking glass with the Bush administration. Even Richard Nixon--the president who averred to David Frost that "if the president does it, it's not illegal"--didn't destroy evidence (you have eighteen minutes to tell me how wrong that last passage can be).
No one is holding George W. Bush responsible. Evidence suggests that no one ever has. The concept of justice is a relic at this point. Even people in jail for serial murder have to wonder what the rules are now. They've been held responsible. George W. Bush hasn't and--if present trends hold true--won't be held responsible or accountable for the profound wrong he has done.
My dead parents are more of a moral force than the living president of the United States. That is profoundly tragic.