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Archive for Sunday, October 19, 2008

Changed nation accepts torture approval

October 19, 2008

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Meanwhile, back at the War on Terror ...

You remember the War on Terror, don't you? It was in all the papers. Back before presidential politics sucked the air from the room and your 401(k) shrank till it was worth maybe dinner and a movie, it was considered quite the important news story. Abu Ghraib? Extraordinary renditions? Fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here? Surely you recall.

I only ask because of a news story that broke last week to a yawn of media disinterest. The Washington Post reported on two secret White House memos explicitly endorsing the use of waterboarding - simulated drowning - on so-called high-value terrorism suspects. This is, says the Post, the first time the still-classified memos have been disclosed. They were written in response to requests from then-CIA Director George Tenet, who worried his agents might be hung out to dry if the practice were discovered and the people or their representatives demanded someone's head.

According to the Post, the White House issued written authorizations in 2003 and 2004. Yet in 2006, President Bush told the nation, "The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it - and I will not authorize it."

Which was, of course, a lie.

You'd think the latest proof of that lie - yet another smoking gun to stack with all the others - would merit attention. But a computer search Thursday turned up only seven newspaper stories mentioning the memos. Searches of the CNN and FOX news Web sites also came up dry, though the story did appear on MSNBC's site.

If you think my point is that the media missed an important story, it isn't. No, the point is that normal is not where we thought it would be.

You remember how it was just after Sept. 11, 2001, right? Some of us vowed we would never enter a skyscraper again. Some of us didn't want to leave our houses again. The minutiae of popular culture became staggeringly unimportant. Humorists like David Letterman and my colleague, Dave Barry, wondered if they could ever return to the business of laughter.

We were scared dry. And some of us said: Get used to it. This was the new normal.

But skyscrapers did not close from lack of use. We did not become a nation of agoraphobics. We did not lose our interest in singers and movie stars. Letterman and Barry went back to work.

Fear, which had cut through us like a hot poker, became instead a low-grade fever, ambient noise, wallpaper, something you feel without feeling, hear without hearing, see without seeing.

Then you look up one day and realize how profoundly that fear has changed your world. People are imprisoned without charges or access to attorneys, and it's routine. People are surveilled, their reading habits studied, their telephone usage logged, and it's commonplace. People, including children, end up on a secret list of those who are not allowed to fly, nobody will tell you why, there is no appeal, and it's ordinary. We swallow lies like candy, nod sagely at babblespeak, and it's unexceptional.

Torture is inflicted with White House approval, the president lies about it and it's just another Tuesday.

Once upon a time, Americans were fond of looking upon backward nations, upon places where law was whatever the king said it was, and noting with pride that we do things differently in our country. But that was a day long ago and a country long gone.

If we miss the one or mourn the other, you'd never know it to look at us. We live through what feels evermore like a Joe McCarthy fever dream. We feel without feeling, hear without hearing, see without seeing and do not protest what we have become.

Because this is normal now.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

scott3460 6 years, 2 months ago

It is the cleansing of the abuses of the Republican regime. Illegal torture, spying on US citizens, war profiteering, bombing civilians, etc. "Are you going to send us to ze camps?"There are some that need to go, no doubt, but I imagine that, unless you were an active part of the crime syndicate, you have no reason to fear being sent to any camp. bush? I imagine he'll flee somewhere he cannot be reached by the US authorities.

bad_dog 6 years, 2 months ago

"A.) This is not new, it is just the same anti-Bush rehash."-Asbestos"I only ask because of a news story that broke last week to a yawn of media disinterest."-Pitts"B.) President Bush does not believe that "waterboarding" is torture"-Asbestos"...in 2006, President Bush told the nation, "The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it - and I will not authorize it."-PittsCiting Bush's "beliefs" as dispositive of any issue is just silly. Bush indeed lied about endorsing torture. That fact is verified by the secret White House memos. If waterboarding isn't torture, I'm not sure how else you describe it. A trip to the spa for a facial? The better question for discussion IMHO is whether it is ever justifiable."So nothing has really changed."-AsbestosTrue, yet another Bush lie exposed-I agree with you, nothing has changed."This is just another left winger dredging up new stuff in response to Obama's Ayers issues and Jeremiah Wright problems that are coming out on TV ads next week..."How can you characterize this as "dredging up new stuff" when it recounts historic events in the context of something that happened last week? Did it or did it not occur? How can this op-ed be "in response" to something that has not yet occurred? If anything, your observation characterizing this as "preemptive journalism" would be more accurate, at least from a temporal perspective. As for your belief this "is going to get dirty", what do you think voters have been exposed to over the last six plus weeks? Neither Ayers, or Wright is exactly news-perhaps the Republicans are just "dredging up new stuff"? Keep bringing it though. The Ayers issue appears more divisive to the Republicans than damaging to Democrats. Colin Powell's effusive endorsement of Obama today and his negative comments regarding the continued attempt to fear monger with Ayers quite aptly illustrates the dissent within their party. I also believe it carries Independents toward Obama faster than a Swift boat.McCain has stated Wright "is off the table", but what the heck, I'm sure you and the 527s know what's best for his campaign. Or do such attacks merely reflect McCain's tacit approval in an "under the table" fashion? Your comment regarding Obama "getting dirty" by tying it to a NYT "hit piece" is equally curious. When did Obama join the NYT's editorial board?

bad_dog 6 years, 2 months ago

"Them memos were written in 2004. They were in the NEI as well accoridng to the report I have read, so nobody "lied". IT was in the record."-asbestos"This is, says the Post, the first time the still-classified memos have been disclosed."-PittsSo, yes, Bush lied-again. I know the truth pains you. If you dispute this why don't you post a link to the "report" you read so we can all share the superior information you accessed.If by NEI, you intend to refer to National Intelligence Estimates, you might want to write "NIE". While NIEs are created by the intelligence community and are made available to policymakers, as Pitts notes they are classified documents. Classified documents are not part of any "record" available for public dissemenation, unless/until they become declassified. "But if Congressionals representatives are not "doing their homework" and are just "voting" how do they hold Bush accountable for their not reading the NEI?"Again, these are "classified documents". I suspect there are not many members of Congress privvy to these documents. Those who are cannot dissemenate the information without proper authorization or declassification."Convections by whom?"I believe the comment regarding convictions at Gitmo was meant sarcastically. If you intend to refer to the type of oven that uses hot air, I get your drift.I'm not going to address the balance of your post (?). It really speaks for itself. Besides, I wouldn't want you to label me as a "whinning" liberal that doesn't want to talk about substance or resorts to attacking you without referencing "facts".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

The economic collapse is just the reward we get for allowing BushCo to sell us out to Wall Street scammers and the crooked bankers they partnered with. The fear-mongering and pointless, bankrupting wars were the distraction that allowed them to do it, all the while allowing their partners in the military industrial complex to raid the treasury.But clearly, there are those among us, Tom and Mike are prime examples, who are all too eager to ask them to "kick us again, please."

Corey Williams 6 years, 2 months ago

"B.) President Bush does not believe that "waterboarding" is torture, I hold that se view. McCain does not, and most democrats hold the view we need to treat bloody terroritst with kid gloves. Not in my book."But then again, your book is as full of crazy rants as toms and "mad"mike's. But at least they know to spell.

scott3460 6 years, 2 months ago

"Because this is normal now."The people will have their say November 4. By all indications they will elect to turn from the path of george w. bush and his criminal administration and renounce the reign of fear and all it has entailed. Not to worry, the America of our hope, dreams and aspirations will return once we go through this cleansing process.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 2 months ago

"How can you characterize this as "dredging up new stuff" when it recounts historic events in the context of something that happened last week? "Them memos were written in 2004. They were in the NEI as well accoridng to the report I have read, so nobody "lied". IT was in the record.But if Congressionals representatives are not "doing their homework" and are just "voting" how do they hold Bush accountable for their not reading the NEI?""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""'"Look at all the convictions Bush/Cheney have gotten from Gitmo."Convections by whom?This is just great in the ACORn mess the liberaltards say that there are only "allegations", and "nobocy has been charged or convicted".OK idiot, where is the convestion and the charge and where is the sotry?How come it is OK to make moral equivalance with "allegations with "your team" and those on the "other side are already "convicted".I am not going to edit my posts for a bunch of whinning liberals that do not want to talk about substance. It gives you something to attack me on since you certianly have not done so with facts. Especially with this story.Congress knew, just because the WaPO or the NYT are too busy getting wet panties or having something run down their leg with Obama mania, does not make it news. Their derelection of the journalistic integrity is much worse than any political party being biased.

madameX 6 years, 2 months ago

"""How about the hit piece on old news of Cindy McCain in the NYT?"""I was unaware that the NYT is published by the Obama campaign.Why do so may people seem to think that treating detainees with a basic respect for human rights is treating them with "kid gloves?"

ASBESTOS 6 years, 2 months ago

A.) This is not new, it is just the same anti-Bush rehash.B.) President Bush does not believe that "waterboarding" is torture, I hold that smae view. McCain does not, and most democrats hold the view we need to treat bloody terroritst with kid gloves. Not in my book.C.) It is a "moot point" because congress took action (with a Democratic Majority voting for it with all the provisions I might add), and in that bill does allow by provision any President to still use all means to protect the nation.So nothing has really changed. This is just another left winger dredging up new stuff in response to Obama's Ayers issues and Jeremiah Wright problems that are coming out on TV ads next week from 527's not affiliated with the McCain campaign, kind of like ACORN and their vote fraud, lefty, mortgages for everybody that has no credit 527.This is what I call "preemptive journalism" form the lefties because they know it is going to get dirty. ANd YES Obama is getting dirty as well. How about the hit piece on old news of Cindy McCain in the NYT?YTou start your "cleansing", and you will find an equal part of the population in opposition that is armed, is not afraid to oppose your version of "cleansing" by force, and will protect the country and the constitution by all means.This is sick from the dems, "Cleansing". The mere words are chilling and must be violently opposed. Funny that this is from the Party that fancies itself "protectors of the constitution".Ever heard of "hate speech"?

JohnBrown 6 years, 2 months ago

Look at all the convictions Bush/Cheney have gotten from Gitmo. I look forward to getting a president who will honor his oath to "preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States".

ASBESTOS 6 years, 2 months ago

"I imagine he'll flee somewhere he cannot be reached by the US authorities."Yes, it is called TEXAS, and you wqould not be welcomed. (Maybe in the low end districts of Dallas like Oakcliff and the Houston area around the SE side of town.)

bad_dog 6 years, 2 months ago

PS, I'm still waiting for you to post the link I requested above-assuming there is one.The crickets are chirping...

ASBESTOS 6 years, 2 months ago

""This is, says the Post, the first time the still-classified memos have been disclosed."-Pitts"To the Press maybe, but not to congressmen on Foreign Relations COmmittee and Defense Committee.Duh!Pull your head out.No kidding WHERE are the GD moderators. They must be the most left leaning pieces of trash around, or they are just very stupid.

bad_dog 6 years, 2 months ago

"To the Press maybe, but not to congressmen on Foreign Relations COmmittee and Defense Committee.Duh!-asbestosYou be sure and let me know when they share classified info with anyone outside the FRC, etc. Disclosure to the press was the point of the article. Duh!Yes, you probably should seek the assistance of the LJW moderators. Perhaps they can help you with essentials of grammar, spelling and sentence structure as well as protect you from the big, bad liberals out there in cyberspace.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

Tom Shewmon (Tom Shewmon) says: "I don't hide my identity."Yes you do. You took your indentity that actually has relevance here, as Right-Thinker, and changed into the totally irrelevent Tom Shewmon. Tom Shewmon is just a name, a name that nobody here probably knew about or cared about. Right-thinker is the most obvious and available sign of your absolute bias, which would make it much more useful as an evaluation tool than just calling yourself Tom Shewmon.Whoever the hell He is.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

"WIll Pitts ever write a column about beheaded and mutilated coalition troops?"What would be the point of that? The people engaging in those acts don't read this newspaper, likely don't read any of Pitt's columns, and are not apt to take them seriously if they did read them. Bit of a waste of space, when you write, apparently, as an attempt to reform society.It would be like him addressing his columns to the attention of you, Right-thinker. Or madmike, Asbestos, whatever Restore Romanticism is calling himself these days, etc. You know, the ones who read the title, the fact that it's by Pitts, one or two sentences with any attempt at comprehension, and then respond with the thought-invoking "Another liberal anti-Bush attack," and then move on.

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