Democrats and Torture

On one level I've known that Democrats in Congress are almost as responsible for enabling Bush's authoritarian crusade as are Republicans, yet its still very distressing to read story's like this in Sunday's Post:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA
program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism
suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group,
which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention
sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make
their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was
waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as
torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two
lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials

As for any defense of the complicit Democrats, Glenn Greenwald takes them apart well here.  My favorite part:

Why would they even bother to go to the briefings if they tell
themselves ahead of time: “even if intelligence officials confess to
serial, deliberate lawbreaking and vow to continue breaking the law,
there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, because I'm sworn to
secrecy”? That's absurd. Their obligation to maintain the secrecy of
classified information applies to proper and legal
intelligence activities. They're not only able, but duty-bound, to act
to impede patent lawbreaking (such as torture). That's the whole
purpose of “oversight.”

I've been watching Rescue Dawn (half way through; so far, so good) and as I'm watching the appalling scenes of American POW's being tortured in Vietnam, I was literally thinking about how barbaric it was and that I'm so glad I live in a country where expect better out of people.  Unfortunately, not enough of the people that matter feel the same way.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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