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TwinSwords
06-19-2008, 10:42 PM
I remember when we used to define ourselves by our principled opposition to these practices. When you thought torture, or permanent detention, you thought of brutal police states like the Soviet Union or China.

This is the Bush legacy (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/41514.html).


General who probed Abu Ghraib says Bush officials committed war crimes
By Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON The Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing "war crimes" and called for those responsible to be held to account.

The remarks by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who's now retired, came in a new report that found that U.S. personnel tortured and abused detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, using beatings, electrical shocks, sexual humiliation and other cruel practices.

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Taguba, whose 2004 investigation documented chilling abuses at Abu Ghraib, is thought to be the most senior official to have accused the administration of war crimes. "The commander in chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture," he wrote.

A White House spokeswoman, Kate Starr, had no comment.

Taguba didn't respond to a request for further comment relayed via a spokesman.

[...]

Source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/41514.html

bjkeefe
06-20-2008, 12:07 AM
Great. You've just undercut my last comment (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=80797#post80797).

TwinSwords
06-25-2008, 12:53 AM
Great. You've just undercut my last comment (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=80797#post80797).

Not really: almost everything you said at the link is completely valid. I won't summarize all the things you are right about because I'd end up quoting almost everything you said.

The one (and only) thing I would disagree with:

The precedent it establishes also worries me. We don't want to get into the habit of putting the previous administration on trial every time we change over. That would, if nothing else, lead to even more secrecy, not to mention even more of a tendency to hire people based upon loyalty instead of competence.

The precedent was set in 1998 and 1999, by Republicans, and continued throughout the Bush years with the corruption of the Justice Department, the political prosecution of Gov. Siegelman, and the US Attorney scandal. And I know that you know that Republicans will begin calling for the impeachement of Obama the day he takes office (should we be so lucky as to see him elected). (In fact, they will start calling for his impeachement late in the day on November 4, if Obama appears on course to be elected.)

I don't know if you watched C-SPAN at all in the 1990s, but Republicans of all stripes were calling for Clinton's impeachement in 1992.

What you really should say, if you really mean the above, is that Democrats should unilaterally disarm; that they should let Republicans have exclusive use of certain weapons. This is an extension of the thinking that says we have to be nice to them and call them "sir" and tip our hat and be gentlemanly while they call us traitors and Swift Boat our candidates and destroy our political leaders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunting_of_the_President).

Maybe the opposite is true: If Democrats showed some nerve for a change and demonstrated a willingness to fight fire with fire, Republicans would think twice about impeaching our next president. Maybe they need to realize their are consequences to their actions. Maybe they should consider the fact that their colossal failure of a president is at 23% approval in the latest LA Times poll and the public would be far more supportive of our attempts to impeach him than it was of their attempts to impeach Clinton, whose popularity hovered around 70% for the entire duration of the impeachment drama.

Maybe the precedent we should be afraid of setting is that they can use certain weapons against us that we will never use against them. What do you think is more likely to encourage a bully? A willingness to fight back, or a willingness to lay down and take it? We've been looking the other way for far too long. If laws aren't enforced, they will be broken. The precedent we should be concerned with is that the next Republican administration can repeat all of the abuses that Bush did without fear of opposition.

We blame the press for failing to hold Bush accountable, but then rationalize our own failure to hold him accountable through the processes made available to us in our Constitution? The press sucks and should throw itself off a bridge for its collective failures over the past years, but ultimately it is only the Congress and the Courts who are Constitutionally equipped to "check" and "balance" Bush's abuse of power and violations of law. If there have been institutional failures on the part of the media, they are dwarfed by the failures of the other two branches of government.

Of course, these points may well be moot, due to several of the other points you made in your post, including (a) we would never have gotten the requisite 51 votes to convict, and (b) the distraction could have bolstered Bush's popularity.

Plus, could you imagine the sickening spectacle of the MSM sobbing about "poor Bush" being abused by the mean old Democrats? Effing Ben Smith and Matt Cooper and all their "liberal media" pals would have been positively apoplectic if the man they protected and enabled for 7 years was actually held accountable for his crimes.

bjkeefe
06-25-2008, 01:21 AM
Twin:

Good rant.

I do wish there were some way to find out the extent of BushCo's crimes, and to punish accordingly, but we blew the chances we had, and I'm afraid that trying to do anything after the fact, to the top guns, would just look pathetic. As I've said elsewhere, I think a better thing to push for would be a truth and reconciliation commission of some sort. Realistically, though, even that could be a major distraction, and would probably be turned into an effective weapon for the GOP, who are generally much better at dirty fighting than the Dems.

TwinSwords
06-25-2008, 01:37 AM
Twin:

Good rant.

I do wish there were some way to find out the extent of BushCo's crimes, and to punish accordingly, but we blew the chances we had, and I'm afraid that trying to do anything after the fact, to the top guns, would just look pathetic. As I've said elsewhere, I think a better thing to push for would be a truth and reconciliation commission of some sort. Realistically, though, even that could be a major distraction, and would probably be turned into an effective weapon for the GOP, who are generally much better at dirty fighting than the Dems.

I like the Truth & Reconciliation idea; it stands a chance of being far more successful at uncovering the truth and holding people accountable than other legal avenues.

The two problems with that idea:

(1) There is no one brave enough in the United States of America to actually hold such procedings. The Democrats are far too cowardly to undertake something like that. It's simply unimaginable that this could EVER possibly get off the ground, except perhaps as a student project in a community college somewhere, with kids playing the part of Feith and Cheney and Wolfowitz, et al., in which case it would still cause mass outrage among the media and political establishment.

(2) The media would have an Althouse-style meltdown, decrying the entire effort.

Some days it feels like it's more trouble than it's worth trying to stand up to these people.

Still: I'm extremely concerned about the precedent we've now set that what Bush did is okay and should be repeated often by his successors. We really may be witnessing the closing chapters of the America we all grew up knowing and loving.

bjkeefe
06-25-2008, 02:13 AM
Twin:

These are all worries I share -- spineless Democrats, an MSM who would turn public opinion against any such effort (partly because of how bad they'd end up looking), and worst, a precedent having been established that the executive branch is above the law and no longer capable of being checked by Congress.

I also often share your sense that we're in the twilight of the American experiment. A lot is riding on the next four years.