Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Extraordinary Rendition - or more mundane torture?

"We do not torture," says our President. Well, color me comforted.

He of the faulty Iraq intel, the Brownie you're doing a heckuva job spin, the man who says we should help the poor and a few weeks later proposes slashing social programs --he wouldn't lie to me, would he?

How ironic, these unequivocal, choked-on statements coming so close to Veteran's Day. How...touching: "We do not torture."

Strictly speaking, we don't do it in America. Like everything else these days, we outsource. It's so much cleaner that way.

Think of it like having an illegal alien for a nanny or a maid. Only this Mary Poppins takes time out each day to toss prostitutes menstrual blood in the faces of infidels. Instead of putting little Johnny's bat back in his closet, she busts a few kneecaps of the Muslims next door.

And she doesn't even have to pay taxes! No wonder the right-wing Bush supporters are outraged! Oh, wait. They're not. But I hope regular American people are.

Our bright and shining beacon of fair play, promise and morality has dimmed to an almost imperceptible night light. While this is just one of the many Bush administration abominations, it's the largest, most grotesque symptom of the pervasive sickness they've spread.

Strictly speaking, we don't torture in America. Although, strictly speaking, we don't let Americans die on the streets of, say, New Orleans, either. And yet both of these have been witnessed by good people willing to speak out. Captain Ian Fischback. Shepard Smith, who deserves much more than weekly mental reprogramming at Fox News. Sgt. Frank "Greg" Ford, who told his superiors that he witnessed his colleagues torturing Iraqi detainees was strapped to a gurney and flown out of Iraq -- even though there was nothing wrong with him.


Such is the price of being honest in Bush's America. Just ask General Shinseki, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame. . .and countless others we'll no doubt be hearing from in the future.

Time and time again this administration tells us that its critics are wrongheaded. They're "putting the troops in danger" by daring to tell the truth. Worse, they're delusional, mistaken, confused.

When is it okay to start making historical comparisons to this administration? When can we revoke Godwin's Law and recognize that if the fascist shoe fits it's time to wear it?

What endangers the troops is the torture, not exposing it.

Impossible wishful thinking to believe that the Muslim community is the last to know about our so-called extraordinary rendition to secret gulags and the vile practices that take place at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

Equally impossible to fathom is the notion that talking about it "destroys troop morale." That implies performing acts of torture is somehow good for morale. Who needs a strong stiff scotch with that kind of spiked kool-aid?

We cannot stand in judgment on the terrorists for their destructive acts of cruelty when we perpetrate our own. Period. We've no business galluping around the world condemning countries as civil rights violators when we're guilty of same, at home and abroad.

Most importantly, each of us - you, me, your neighbor with the "W" sticker on his gas-guzzler, the neighbor with the "war is not a family value" sticker on her hybrid --none of us can afford not to speak out against a government that commits torture in our name, and exposes their own cowardice and evil by using our troops and other countries to perpetrate their sick agendas.

We can't afford not to scream. Not for the lofty concerns of our place in the international community, or that it violates the very beliefs on which we were founded, but because these acts threaten our individual humanity, or soul if one believes in God.

Some issues demand outrage; now that our acts of torture are brought to light there's no hope of trying to shroud them in darkness and salvage what's left or go back to pretending we're something we're not.

What's happening right now in our names plunges us into moral bankruptcy and will result in decades of shame. None of this is worth our continued silence and complicity.

Lately, my friends and loved ones increasingly ask what can any of us do. "What good does it do for this to consume you so? I understand why you care, but what do you think it's going to accomplish?" as Nancy often asks me.

When this administration is gone and the inevitable fallout transpires -- and make no mistake the end-product of their malevolent foreign and domestic policies will continue to turn our country inside-out --many of us will be left with nothing.

Maybe the best that I can hope for in terms of results is surviving with my dignity and sense of humanity intact.

Someday when my daughters and their children look back on this dark period of American history, they'll be able to hold their heads high and say honestly their loved ones didn't look the other way and condone atrocity like good Germans.
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