blogenlust
1.06.2005

Happy Torture Day!


Barring any sudden growth of balls in certain Senators and Congress men and women, Alberto Gonzales begins his path towards Attorney General today. I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate my country for honoring such a stand-up guy. As Mark Danner writes in today's New York Times, we've got a lot to be proud of:
When Alberto Gonzales takes his seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for hearings to confirm whether he will become attorney general of the United States, Americans will bid farewell to that comforting story line. The senators are likely to give full legitimacy to a path that the Bush administration set the country on more than three years ago, a path that has transformed the United States from a country that condemned torture and forbade its use to one that practices torture routinely. Through a process of redefinition largely overseen by Mr. Gonzales himself, a practice that was once a clear and abhorrent violation of the law has become in effect the law of the land. [...] By using torture, we Americans transform ourselves into the very caricature our enemies have sought to make of us. True, that miserable man who pulled out his hair as he lay on the floor at Guantánamo may eventually tell his interrogators what he knows, or what they want to hear. But for America, torture is self-defeating; for a strong country it is in the end a strategy of weakness. After Mr. Gonzales is confirmed, the road back - to justice, order and propriety - will be very long. Torture will belong to us all.
I suppose people might say I'm overreacting, and maybe I am. After all, Gonzales says he's done with his days of torture, making it seem as though it was all just an innocent frat prank. Even if I accept this at face value (which I don't), it still doesn't matter because the damage has been done. Remember that this wasn't irreparable damage, as we could have at the least held some people accountable for these actions. Instead, just about everyone but the lowest people involved have remained employed, or worse, promoted. Maybe the message this sends is lost on most of this country, but it definitely isn't lost on the rest of the world--especially the part of the world we're trying to give "freedom and democracy." We really screwed the pooch with this entire torture debacle, and today, god willing, we're going to make it cool to screw the pooch.