Equality Under The Law
As the debate heats up about the Bush Administration’s decision to use torture against the provisions of every international law, and even more importantly the laws of our democracy, it seems to me that the issue of equal justice under the law is being ignored. Torture is either legal or illegal, and my view is that it is always illegal. That was also the view of our government at the end of World War II when we prosecuted to the full extent of the law those in Germany who followed orders from their infamous government under Adolf Hitler. So why are so many Republicans and conservative pundits now making excuses about its use in the so-called War on Terror?
There has been a never-ending parade of former Bush Administration officials coming on the cable channels, preferably FOX NOISE, making no apologies for their bad behavior, and in fact saying that it was a good thing. Dick Cheney, his daughter Jill, Karl Rove and George Tenet have all come forward with the theory that torture worked and should be utilized in order to keep our nation safe. They accuse President Obama of jeopardizing the security of the US by “telling our enemies what they need to be ready for in case they are captured.” Hey, dummies, clean out your ears. President Obama has clearly stated that we will no longer use torture (enhanced interrogation techniques in Bush double talk). So that makes moot the assertion that it tells the enemy what to expect. Of course, even when the Bush Administration folks were carrying out those evil practices, everyone in the world knew exactly what was being done. So that makes the argument that the enemy weren’t prepared moot to begin with.
What really busts my chops about this topic is that which nobody is talking about. Remember those young soldiers who were convicted by military courts for carrying out the orders of their higher ups? Remember all of the shocked outrage expressed by members of the Bush Administration and Republican Congressmen from both houses at the “bad behavior” of a “few bad apples”? I remember it well. I remember watching the spectacle of a pregnant Lynndie England being paraded before the media cameras on her way to trial. Where was Dick Cheney, who obviously thinks torture is a good thing? Where was Donald Rumsfeld? Where was Condoleeza Rice? Where was President George W. Bush? That’s right, they were all in the crowd of rock throwers that gathered around a bunch of scape-goated young soldiers. Let’s face it, what they really did that made the Administration and its Pentagon mad enough to go after them was to blow the cover off of their clandestine torture operations by sending pictures to their friends back home.
So now, all these years after Abu Ghraib broke across the known world, making the greatest constitutional democracy in the world look like the Evil Empire from Star Wars, the truth is beginning to surface about who knew what and when they knew it. Now, much has been made of the memos from the White House Counsel’s office that gave the “legal go ahead” to use those “enhanced interrogation techniques” by declaring them constitutionally acceptable. Of course, what we don’t know is how much pressure was coming from, let’s say, the President of Vice’s Office, to come to that conclusion. It’s not uncommon to “shop around” for a lawyer who already shares your viewpoint in any legal case. But in addition to this aspect, there is one more glaring exposure that isn’t getting much discussion: Condoleeza Rice okayed the use of those “enhanced interrogation techniques” before those memos said it was all right. Let’s just keep the record straight, even if the talking heads from the right do their usual thing and muddy the waters.
What is all this commotion really about? Isn’t it really Dick Cheney’s Republican colleagues coming to his rescue? Isn’t this really just another example of Republican politicians closing ranks to protect their own? After all, Senator David Vitters of Louisiana, aka “Diaper Dave,” still stands as an admitted client of prostitutes, yet the “morally upstanding” Republican Party gives him a very vocal leadership position. In my opinion the Republican Party has a long-standing history of sending the message out, “If we do it, it’s okay. If anybody outside our fold does it, we prosecute to the full extent of the law.” Isn’t this just another example of this mindset on the right? Of course, it is!
And here’s the other tactical approach they are resorting to: blackmail! They are making clear threats that they will bring down Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Jay Rockefeller if the Democrats dare to pursue any sort of investigation into the matter. They allege that Speaker Pelosi and Senator Rockefeller as well as other key Democrats on Capitol Hill knew that torture was being carried out, and by their silence gave their consent. Okay, Republicans, here’s the deal. We Democrats aren’t quite as willing to stand behind bad behavior on the part of our elected representatives as you all are. If it can be proven that Pelosi and Rockefeller, and any other Democrat for that matter, encouraged, advocated or even allowed torture to be practiced by our government, then let the chips fall where they may. Now, that may cost us a Senate seat from a conservative state like West Virginia, but I’m sure that the demise of Ms. Pelosi won’t result in a gain by the Republicans in San Francisco. So, to quote a redneck bumper sticker often seen on the roadways of The South: Ain’t Skeered!
The right thing to do, something I rarely see Republicans concerned with, is to investigate the activities of our government during the so-called War on Terror so that we can be sure that in the “heat of the moment” we don’t travel down the same wrong road again. Torture is wrong! I’ve seen countless Republicans defending it in the last couple of weeks, and that’s exactly the reason that an investigation is needed. I’ve seen Joe Scarborough say over and over and over again that “everybody supported it” after 9-11. Well, I didn’t support it, so technically not EVERYBODY was all for doing any and every unlawful thing that came to mind “ under the circumstances.” I’m always amazed at the Biblically high-minded Republicans who are against any variance from Bible morality, yet are always so quick to put morality aside when it suits them.
We don’t allow murders and robbers to go free because they have a “good reason” for what they did. The “law and order” Republicans would scoff at any such notion, but whenever one of their own is caught outside the law, they are quick to come to their defense. I remember when Rush Limbaugh was “caught” with his hand in the prescription jar. The right was up at arms that such a “good American” was being persecuted. I remember when the Reagan Administration funded weapon purchases by Nicaraguan rebels from Iran by funneling proceeds from drug sales on the streets of American cities in a little operation known as the Iran Contra Affair. Of course, the big guys, Reagan and Daddy Bush, all proclaimed their lack of knowledge – that is, until Reagan admitted he knew about it all along. What we got was a great big cover-up and the sacrifice of Oliver North, who was blamed for everything. The list goes on: Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame matter. Scooter Libby took the fall for that one while the feckless Rove and Cheney have gone on to Republican celebrity status thanks to FOX NOISE.
There’s nothing new in all of this. We’ve seen it time and time again. Yet when Bill Clinton engaged in hanky-panky in the Oval Office with an indiscreet young woman, the Republicans were quick to put him on trial and impeach him. The Republicans didn’t see any danger to our security in putting a sitting President on trial for sexual misconduct, yet they issue warnings of doom if we should pursue investigating the activities of a past administration. How ridiculous! How typical! How hypocritical! How Republican!
In the spirit of bi-partisanship, I have a suggestion of a trade-off on this whole “torture” debate. Let the investigation go forward so that others in the future won’t be tempted to do such a thing again regardless of the circumstances, then let the President pardon the wrongdoers and put the whole thing to rest. Oh, and one more thing: Pardon those poor soldiers who took the blame for an Administration policy gone wrong. They were scape-goated in a most hypocritical way by an Administration that was busy covering up its wrongdoing. Then we can strengthen the laws assuring that the whole thing doesn’t happen again. If the Republicans can’t agree with this, then they are just being partisan as usual. That is, unless they plan to re-institute torture when they regain the White House. Could this be their true agenda? Unfortunately, time will tell.