Sunday, March 19, 2006

What's a Pilgrim To Do?

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." That's attributed to George Orwell--attributed because no one can find the actual source text--and comes to me from an erstwhile historian.

Today's Diogenenes Award--presented sporadically to the person or persons who expose the abuses of power, official lies and deceits, and popular urban myths and legends to the cold light of reason--goes to Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall of the New York Times for exposing the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Task Force 6-26, a U.S. Special Operations force at Camp Nama's Black Room, a former Saddam torture chamber, near Baghdad at least in 2003 and 2004. These sadists had as their motto: "No Blood, No Foul," meaning, Schmitt and Marshall report, that if the prisoners didn't bleed, the torturers couldn't be prosecuted. These brave soldiers were charged with tracking down, Abu Musab al-Zargawi, and while they seem to have been rather adept at torture and congratulating themselves for abusing prisoners, they were lousy trackers. Clearly, as has been said in study after study, torture does not produce anything approaching "truthful," or useful testimony. Schmitt and Marshall lay it out, so here let me say, as I've said before, that the torture of prisoners appears to have been authorized at the highest levels of the U.S. government and that it must be investigated and prosecuted vigorously through the ranks for the war crime it is.

That is the right and just and moral thing to do. Only by proceeding immediately--and the prospect is for large scale impeachment proceedings and criminal prosecutions--can the U.S. hope to redeem itself, as a society of "laws, not men," and recover its standing in the world. No it is not a PR stunt; it is a necessary expiation for the sins committed in the name of America and democracy.

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