Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Bauerization of America

Let's talk about torture.

i know i know... these are monday conversations... but today is special - because yesterday "The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a 'life-threatening condition.'"

Ok. Now first off... this guy was a very very very bad person. He would have been on the planes if he could've been. There's very little question that this is 'one of the bad guys' - so let's not argue that. The question is - how do we choose to treat the bad guys? He isnt 'convicted' - he hasn't been tried - but he's guilty in that he certainly materially participated in bad things - and he'd do it again if we let him loose. No 'out on bail living in his multi-million dollar penthouse in manhattan' for him (he's not wealthy enough - let's not mention that 9/11 had a direct cost of $27.2b and Madoff did nearly twice as much damage).

So we know he's a bad guy... and maybe he knows things about other bad people. Maybe he knows things about other plans. What would Jack Bauer do? There's the problem. See - breaking out the feathers, thumbscrews, goats, and Cardinal Biggle's soft cushions doesnt actually get you truth. Ask John McCain. Professional interrogators will tell you this - just as our propaganda ministers will tell you that stories like this go a long way to seriously damaging our ability to gain cooperation from those abroad.

W said we do not torture yet his own "convening authority for military commissions" has admitted as much. WE HAVE LAWS - people MUST be tried over this. Obama cannot just ignore the high crimes of the Bush administration. We cannot have a government that pursues perjury charges against baseball players but not against those guilty of imposing stalin-esque ideological purity tests upon the department civil rights enforcement at the department of justice. Yes the wounds are ugly - but they are not resolved by saying 'it's different now' and slapping a bandaid on it. Criminals MUST be punished - or there is NO DISINCENTIVE FOR THEM DOING IT AGAIN. We are not ready for 'the healing process' - we have yet to cut out the cancer that has infected this government and this nation.

Now all that said... this is a BAD person. He doesn't need to be out there killing people - but there is a proper process for putting this guy in a small cell for the rest of his life - just as there is a process for putting those responsible for torturing him in similar cells. We need to follow it.

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