Monday, June 18, 2007

Denial: Where We Lost

Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth;
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
-- Richard II

Abu Ghraib.

The death of honor; the death of our ideals; the ascendancy of our own liars, sadists, monsters and torturers.

What of those who tried to be heroes and make it stop? General Taguba has retired from the military. One of the things the current New Yorker article makes clear is that there were several problems; and that some of them have been pointedly ignored. The military confined its investigation to the narrow area of military involvement. No one with authority to investigate all aspects was ever appointed. Of course, we have a president who resists truth, and so the authority was never delegated in an honorable and honest fashion.

Clearly, both the CIA and contractors had much involvement and no accountability. To this day, the faceless nature of the perpetrators remains.

Moreover, the identity of the stonewallers (who blocked knowledge of the crimes from raging upward as they should have) remains shadowy. Five reports, stalled by people with no morals or ethics except CYA -- the crimes by those in our government are pervasive to this day.

An independent panel headed by James R. Schlesinger, a former Secretary of Defense, did conclude that there was “institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels” for Abu Ghraib, but cleared Rumsfeld of any direct responsibility. In an August, 2004, report, the Schlesinger panel endorsed Rumsfeld’s complaints, citing “the reluctance to move bad news up the chain of command” as the most important factor in Washington’s failure to understand the significance of Abu Ghraib.

More important than a "failure to understand" was the institutional reaction to the information about torture. Taguba was sidelined into a Pentagon job where he could be under the immediate "supervision" of people with a vested interest stonewalling. Meanwhile, General Miller at Guantanamo was protected by his superiors even as he interrogated prisoners in ways that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions.

Did they deny that the events happened? Did they merely deny people upstream from them the information? Does it matter which when those actions have resulted in a loss of the moral high ground?

For, indeed, the loss of the moral high ground started there, and it has contaminated our every word and action to this day. The uncontrolled and individualized brutality has seeped out and turned the population we supposedly liberated into a quasi-enemy entity, due nothing but suspicion, raids, arrests. The loss of our integrity is the start of a greater loss.

Congress, shown the evidence, did nothing. Just nothing. They are a disgrace to the principles of good government and oversight. Not one of them has courage where courage would count.

After 9/11 the showing of flags was pervasive. After Abu Ghraib, a lot of us put our flags away until our pride can be restored.

It hasn't happened yet.

[via Political Animal]

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