Friday, December 16, 2005


NATIONAL DISGRACE. I find the celebrated "breakthrough" on a unified Congressional and White House policy banning all forms of torture by American military and intelligence quite baffling. The very fact that our President resisted for so long the clear, simple, forthright terms for banning all forms of torture in the John McCain statement indicates that actions are being hidden, personnel being protected, evidence being cleaned up, detainees being transferred, commands being reversed. American secret detention and torture of detainees--abuse and mistreatment of any kind--is a disgrace to the American people and to every soldier who has sacrificed to defend democracy. Our so-called "moral" leader has taken American integrity to new lows in international eyes.

CUTTING DEALS. I also think Congressional leaders need to look for what might be behind this "breakthrough." Why did the Bush Administration finally concede? What did they promise? What were they promised? No further investigations? No pursuit of punitive action for those who are implicated? John McCain has been cutting deals with this Administration for years. McCain needs to come clean on what he and his Republican cohorts have exchanged this time.

VERIFY INDEPENDENTLY. So, with this agreed statement to clearly ban torture, it is said America can now claim a "moral high ground." Whoa Nellie! Not yet. Not until it is independently verifiable that such actions are not taking place--anywhere by anybody--and that all American torture that has occurred is exposed and all who engaged in the actions (or who ordered them or consented for them to be done) are brought to justice. "Moral high ground" is not something this Administration can claim. They forfeited this distinction when they chose to set aside the Geneva Conventions when dealing with suspected terrorists. It's been a downhill slide ever since. They forfeited "moral high ground" when they, oops, got caught at Abu Graihb. They forfeited "moral high ground" when they hesitated to immediately ban all forms of torture.

REPENTANCE? NOT LIKELY. There is only one way for this Administration to begin to move toward "moral high ground." That is to publicly confess and repent of all instances and practices of torture. And then to "produce fruit in keeping with repentance." This is not likely to occur. Instead, expect more insincere antics, more coy word games like those played by Condoleeza Rice in Europe last week, empty Presidential posturing aimed at placating critics or bolstering popularity in the polls, and efforts to cover up or forestall investigations into American misbehavior. But if it's "moral high ground" you want, confession and repentance is the way.

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