I never felt kinship with the lunatic fringe who have been calling Bush and Cheney war criminals for years. I have always thought they were hemp wearin’, pot smokin’, tree-huggin’, smelly flippin’ hippies. It gives me no peace to think they may have been right.
This column by “Hunter” at Daily Kos diaries is stunning, well-written, and somber. Please, please read it. An excerpt:
I am fucking sick of it, and I am fucking sick of hearing how we have entered a new age of enlightenment merely because we have stopped a transparently abominable practice, one that we condemn with vigor when undertaken by any other nation. I am fucking sick of myself, my compatriots and the rest of the public having to act as collective conscience for all those in power that, apparently, have long since evolved past even common sense, much less common shame.
I wonder if I feel this same sickness more because I am an American living “abroad”, or if I would feel the same rising level of bile if I was still back in The States. It is with great despair that I must foresake, disavow, repudiate, and condemn the actions of my government. And I am increasingly furious for being put in a position that requires me to do so.
By my count I have been represented by Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Gerald Carter, Ronald Regan, George HW Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama. All were “my” Presidents, whether I voted for them, or not, or even actively opposed them. Johnson expanded Vietnam in ways I would in hindsight be repulsed by, Nixon in contrast seems like nothing more than a bitter, paranoid little man, Regan obviously circumvented the Congress on Iran/Contra, and the rest seem right now to be relatively harmless, or at worst embarrasing (Clinton) for personal failures.
Perhaps it’s a product of my age that I feel so repulsed by these recent revelations, that I feel for the first time that I don’t want to be a part of this, that I think no, no, this is not my country.
At this point, I will confess to a darkness of intent that may justifiably undermine my righteous indignation. I will admit in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 a willingness to use torture. I even recall times much later when I could not understand anyone’s concern about using torture. I actually thought it might be a good thing if a field agent used torture to get info. I wanted someone out there to be willing to go to jail in order to get information. To willingly break the law to protect the country. To me it was vengeance. Unethical, punishable, but in my mind ultimately forgiveable given the circumstances.
I did not, can not, and will not accept the institutionalization or the legalization of such actions. I will admit that I was naive enough to have never considered this possibility.
We are a nation of laws, in cases to a fault. We were founded in part in response to the capriciousness of a government which acted without regard to common law. To find that there was an insidious, considered program to subvert not only the nation’s law but international law with the intent specifically to support an otherwise indefensible political decision seems to be a greater threat to our nation than Nixon’s paranoia, or Regan’s end-around.
I am aware and grateful that there are hard men of great moral flexibility who do things in dark and dangerous places for my country that I would not condone. I am also protective enough of my country to demand that they do so without the benefit of legal “cover” for their actions. Yes, I am asking them to walk the line, and when they feel it is necessary, break the law and suffer the consequences if they are caught. What they must do, they must do without that cover, or else we are all guilty of their actions.
I refuse to be a party to torture. Full stop. Period.