Death Knell For the American Idea

There's no adequate response to today's release of the stomach-churning, "rectal-rehydrating" Senate report on torture. Except, perhaps, to loudly reject the twisted logic of the ACLU's call to pardon the perpetrators to "ensure that the American government never tortures again" and "close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all." WTF? Torturers - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld on down - are war criminals. Prosecute them, convict them, throw away the key. Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur On Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, today likewise called for the "individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy (to) be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes," adding that the fact the policies were authorized at the highest levels "provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability."

The sickening crimes are clear, as is the just legal reparation for them. Far murkier - thanks to the tragic improbability of an apologist Obama administration ever doing what needs to be done - is the moral cost. Citing "so breathtakingly awful, so transcendently wicked" an introduction to a report "into American savagery overseas...what was done to people in our name and on our dime," the ever-eloquent Charlie Pierce mourns "the concept of American exceptionalism based on anything as delicate as the rule of law - in fact, any concept of American exceptionalism based on anything but brutish force." With righteous wrath and palpable sorrow, he dismisses anyone who still calls torture "enhanced interrogation," or attempts to justify our barbarism, or cites "the debate" over whether the United States tortures. "The only debate left is the debate over whether or not it will remain the policy of this nation to commit moral and national suicide by euphemism," he writes. "Debate's over. We became what they think we are. And worse."


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Howard Zinn: "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty (and) war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

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