Friday, July 29, 2005

Republic? What Republic?

From The Washington Post editorial staff:

FOR 15 MONTHS now the Bush administration has insisted that the horrific photographs of abuse from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were the result of freelance behavior by low-level personnel and had nothing to do with its policies...

Army brass, which has conducted investigations documenting hundreds of cases of prisoner mistreatment in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but denies that any of its senior officers are culpable...

On Wednesday, the former warden of Abu Ghraib, Maj. David DiNenna, testified that the use of dogs for interrogation was recommended by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, the former commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison who was dispatched by the Pentagon to Abu Ghraib in August 2003 to review the handling and interrogation of prisoners. On Tuesday, a military interrogator testified that he had been trained in using dogs by a team sent to Iraq by Gen. Miller...

In statements to investigators and in sworn testimony to Congress last year, Gen. Miller denied that he recommended the use of dogs for interrogation, or that they had been used at Guantanamo.

Yet Army investigators reported to Congress this month that, under Gen. Miller's supervision at Guantanamo, an al Qaeda suspect named Mohamed Qahtani was threatened with snarling dogs, forced to wear women's underwear on his head and led by a leash attached to his chains -- the very abuse documented in the Abu Ghraib photographs...

The interrogation of Mr. Qahtani, investigators found, was carried out under rules approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Dec. 2, 2002. After strong protests from military lawyers, the Rumsfeld standards -- which explicitly allowed nudity, the use of dogs and shackling -- were revised in April 2003. Yet the same practices were later adopted at Abu Ghraib, at least in part at the direct instigation of Gen. Miller...

When the Abu Ghraib scandal erupted, GOP leaders such as Sen. John W. Warner (Va.) loudly vowed to get to the bottom of the matter -- but once the bottom started to come into view late last year, Mr. Warner's demands for accountability ceased. Mr. Rumsfeld and other senior officials have never been the subject of an independent investigation. A recommendation by the latest Army probe that Gen. Miller be reprimanded for his role in the Qahtani interrogation was rejected by Gen. Bantz Craddock of Southern Command...

Six GOP senators led by John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) have backed an amendment to the defense operations bill that would exclude exceptional interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay and ban the use of "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment for all prisoners held by the United States...

Attempts by the White House and Mr. Warner to block or gut the legislation failed, and on Tuesday the GOP leadership pulled the defense bill from the floor rather than allow a vote.

This, in a nutshell, describes what's happening to our republic. The executive branch declared itself outside the law, then denied it acted outside the law, then used the Army to cover its trail, then used partisan control to stop Congress from exercising curbs on its exercise of unlimited power.

What's happened to my country?


  1. "What's happened to my country?"

    It has been taken over by wannabe fascists with dekusions of empire, aided and abetted by an "opposition" party lacking in even the most rudimentary spine and a "watchdog" media that seems bought and paid for.

  2. Bob,

    Lest anyone think "fascists" is a hysterical term, here's the definition from MS Word dictionary:

    Fascism: any movement, tendency, or ideology that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism.

    My trusty Webster's says:

    fascism: a governmental system led by a dictator having having complede power, forcefully suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc. and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

    We report, you decide.

  3. "What's happened to my country?"

    The same thing that happens to so many others. Its best tendencies obscured by a swelling heart of darkness.

  4. The big question is when/if the unreleased Abu Ghraib photos and videos come out. They are much worse than the previous set of photos.

    I've looked but there has been very little information since last Friday when the government presented a new appeal to the court. It's very hard to say if there will be an official release but there's some suspicion that Seymour Hersh has a copy. It may not be possible to keep this under wraps indefinitely.

  5. Nicely said, Renata. Let's hope the swelling comes down soon.

    TL, I hope Hersh does have a copy. I firmly believe the Club Gitmo crowd needs to see this for themselves in order to understand just what they've become.


  6. Yeah, I think "fascism" is a hysterical term. It's the type of language used when one wants to deflect the debate. It is similar to the right labelling anyone who opposed the war in Iraq as "anti-American." Doesn't add anything. The GOP isn't anywhere CLOSE to fascist, and the government we have in place isn't either. Sheesh. Hard to take people seriously when they throw those terms around, and that goes for the left AND rights (because I've heard the left described as fascist before under exactly the same definitions Jeff posted). All I can say to it is - bollocks. And any reasonable person knows it.

  7. Scott:

    I agree and disagree for now. "Fascicm" and other terms get used in a hysterical context, but I for one don't think it's a bad thing to run them out, define them, and see if we as a country are trending in that direction.

    "a governmental system led by a dictator having having complete power, forcefully suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc. and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism."

    How close is our executive branch coming to having "complete" power? Are opposition and criticism forcefully suppressed? What about the relationship between industry, commerce, and government? Aggressive nationalism? Racism?

    Are we "trending" in those directions?

  8. I think Jeff is right. The transition from democracy to dictatorship can occur surprisingly quickly. The public should be educated to recognize fascism.


  9. Good point, Karen.

    I suspect this subject deserves a front page thought piece.