Saturday, September 09, 2006

False Clarity

The Bushies have long excelled at obfuscation, sanctimonious hypocrisy and contemptuous disregard for the rule of law--indeed for anything that threatens to arrest the full expression of their infantile tantrum, which is no less dangereous and destructive for being infantile, because they hold the levers of power. The top Bushy is pissed because 9/11 revealed him in all his incompetence, which a bullhorn and clever image manipultion, followed by two wars--the tantrums--managed to obscure. Then along came Katrina. The media has focused on the image of the disengaged president flying over in Air Force One, as the beginning of the end of the Bushy mystique, but I think what really did him in was that video tape of his video conference with emrgency managers and Max Mayfield at the National Hurricane Center. The Bush sat basically doing nothing and issuing no orders--nor even exhorting the troops--despite Mayfield's pointed warrning that Katrina was a storm that could inflict catastrophic damage. Bushy's ennui--maybe that's why he read L'etranger this summer--put people in mind of his nonresponse to the CIA August 2001 briefing about bin Laden's intention to use planes as weapons inside the U.S.

Bushy's been scrambling since Katrina to persuade people that the overwhelming evidence of his incompetence is a lie. The latest campaign is designed to convince people that his trashing of the law---especially his approval of kidnapping and torture--produced valuable information that saved lives, at the very moment that the military has finally and forcefully forebade torture, admitting in the process that is doesn't work. David Johnston in today's NYT exposes the lies surrounding the torture of Abu Zubaydah--lies Bushy repeated in a speech justifying torture and promoting the very same secret trials the Supreme Court rejected. Whatever Abu Zubaydah revealed of any worth, he appears to have spilled during standard interrogation, before he was tortured. Mark Mazzetti dissects every case Bush cites in the September 8 NYT --bottom line--torture doesn't work. In both stories, CIA officials are quoted claiming the opposite, but they provide no evidence. Indeed, every bit of evidence obtained from these tortured prisoners was apparently already known or useless

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record on that. My initial thought was to point out that it appears that Bushy is openly losing large chunks of the military. The revised Army field manual forbids virtually all the techniques Bushy was seeking to justify. The man's disconnect from reality seems to be increasing, and that makes him all the more dangerous.

1 comment:

faculty for workplace justice said...

torture may (does) not work as a way of extracting information from criminals and terrorists, but it does work in striking the fear of god in the rest of us. and this is the goal, after all, of all dictatorships: to make their citizenries quietly terrified and compliant. i notice with bitterness the marked decrease in anti-bush(y) t-shirts and stickers. torture, secret prisons, and illegal wiretapping have gotten under our skin. we are all a lot more scared than we were 6 years ago.

torture also works in guaranteeing that the released prisoners won't talk -- ever. i remember when journalists eagerly awaited for someone to be discharged from guantanamo, so that they could tell the story of their imprisonment and what went on in the "secret prison" (now guantanamo is a model of openness, of course). well, they did get sent out, but it's hard to make people who are so badly traumatized tell their stories (the latest harper's and mother jones have both stories about ex-guantanamers). in the meantime, the american public has gotten so used to the idea that torture "lite" is what we do, that news of torture would not be sensational any longer, after all.

these are times that require heroism, nothing less. we need to stare at our fears and do the right thing. i suggest we start by wearing t-shirts with arabic writng on them whenever we board a plane.