Friday, May 15, 2009

Sick of sycophants

The media continues to be a handmaiden to, well, not power but past power. Nothing exposes better their bias to give Republicans a pass, despite the rankest and most obvious bullshit, than their continuing polite refusal to choose the word torture to label even waterboarding - check out the audio clip. Instead, they weasel back to "some call it torture." The GOP has (mostly) stuck to a Minitru vocabulary that dismisses Bushist crimes as merely harsh interrogation - and who could be against that, girlfriend?

The media heaves a sigh of relief and hews to their so-called professional goal of blind, unjudgemental he-said-she-said stories. The big media appetite for bullshit is a journalistic failing that cannot be laid anywhere but the feet of the vaunted big media conglomerates. Their reporters, editors, and publishers did this as a response to fifty years of wingnut whining (see "Accuracy" in Media) about bias. Atrios would and probably has sarcastically called for a blogger ethics panel.

The pretense that there's a controversy over the meaning of the word torture doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. It's a well-known word with well-known past applications that led to punishment when Americans were outraged by Nazis, Japanese, and communists doing the torture. (Yes, that's whose company we have joined. Sorry to tell you the unpleasant truth if you've been storing your unused head up your-- uh, somewhere warm, moist, and dark.)

There is no news balance whatsoever in being unable to use the right word for fear of offending those who advocate the results of torture. As adults (allegedly), we at least ought to have strong enough stomachs to ask the question whether the intelligence Darth Cheney claims might possibly outweigh the monstrous moral crimes that elicited it. We should have strong enough stomachs to look straight at what was done by the President and the Vice President in the name of all Americans.

It's a blight and stain on our honor. Was it worth it? Should the confessed torturers who ran the White House - and DOD, State, and the OLC - walk?

I, of course, don't think so. I still believe that the rule of law is possible, though it's obviously honored less in the observance than in the breach.

As a society that still believes or at least pretends that it can govern itself, we owe ourselves the truth, at least. Without the truth, voting is largely an exercise in American idols instead of American ideals.

We need to ask questions intelligently. The right question about the efficacy of torture is not whether it ever led to good intel. The right question is whether it did at a higher rate or faster than legal means of interrogation.

There's another crucial question: Did the practice of torture lead to the birth of even more terrorists and thus to even less safety?

We need a fearless investigation. We need an uncompromising investigation. We need the truth.

I hope the truth would lead to criminal prosecution. This would not be the criminalization of policy differences. This would be the prosecution of criminal policies.


Silence DoGood said...

Classic conservative avoidance - you make some great points, LL.

It reminds me of The VietNam conflict. You notice I say "conflict" because it was not declared a war.

I think the conservatives at the time thought the stupid people out here could avoid the nasty aspect of "war" by simply avoiding the term.

It was a WAR then.

We did TORTURE now as tacitly approved by Dubyah.

The truth should always be the highest communication goal as opposed to what the media and politicians do.

lovable liberal said...

I'll take accurate profanity over euphemism any day. Of course, there are liberal euphemisms, too. Putting a bow on bullshit is as old as the use of language in courtship, probably.

globeisatrocious said...

You write: "This would be the prosecution of criminal policies."

The policies were deemed not criminal by the CIA and lawyers in the office of the attorney general in 2004. Even the current Atty G'nl has difficulties over the meaning of the word, today:

Holder stated at the hearing that in his view water-boarding is torture. Lundgren asked if it was the Justice Department’s position that Navy SEALS subjected to waterboarding as part of their training were being tortured.

Holder: No, it’s not torture in the legal sense because you’re not doing it with the intention of harming these people physically or mentally, all we’re trying to do is train them --

Lungren: So it’s the question of intent?

Holder: Intent is a huge part.

Lungren: So if the intent was to solicit information but not do permanent harm, how is that torture?

Holder: Well, it… uh… it… one has to look at... ah… it comes out to question of fact as one is determining the intention of the person who is administering the waterboarding. When the Communist Chinese did it, when the Japanese did it, when they did it in the Spanish Inquisition we knew then that was not a training exercise they were engaging in. They were doing it in a way that was violative of all of the statutes recognizing what torture is. What we are doing to our own troops to equip them to deal with any illegal act -- that is not torture.
Aside from the 'statutes' governing the Spanish Inquisition (how historically stupid is this andimistration?), neither is it torture to extract life saving info if no harm is planned.

lovable liberal said...

Uh, gia, that's utter dishonest bullshit. So Holder got it wrong. You're redefining the word for your ideological convenience.

lovable liberal said...

... and all this is just a series of unforeseeable accidents, bad but not blameworthy? Hell, maybe not even bad, according to apologists like you, gia.

There is no limited hangout that can work to defuse this ticking time bomb of criminality. The information we already know from public admissions of the principals would be enough to convict if it were under oath.