Friday, April 24, 2009

Why we need a truth comission...

I haven't blogged much about politics here lately; it's better handled on Kos, and when I have something political to say, I usually do it there.

But Paul Krugman's right, and his point deserves wide dissemination:

[T]he only way we can regain our moral compass, not just for the sake of our position in the world, but for the sake of our own national conscience, is to investigate how that happened, and, if necessary, to prosecute those responsible...

Still, you might argue — and many do — that revisiting the abuses of the Bush years would undermine the political consensus the president needs to pursue his agenda.

But the answer to that is, what political consensus? There are still, alas, a significant number of people in our political life who stand on the side of the torturers. But these are the same people who have been relentless in their efforts to block President Obama’s attempt to deal with our economic crisis and will be equally relentless in their opposition when he endeavors to deal with health care and climate change. The president cannot lose their good will, because they never offered any...

Sorry, but what we really should do for the sake of the country is have investigations both of torture and of the march to war. These investigations should, where appropriate, be followed by prosecutions — not out of vindictiveness, but because this is a nation of laws.

We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.

We - and I mean Americans collectively - most certainly did not torture because of some twisted ticking time bomb "24" scenario, and we did not torture to prevent attacks on Americans. We did not torture because there was no other way to get the truth. In fact, the Bush regime tortured for the precise opposite reason - because they wanted detainees to say anything to make the suffering stop, including anything that might justify an invasion of Iraq.

We Buddhists generally don't bandy the "e" word about, but frankly, if anything's evil, this is evil. Not to the degree of Babi Yar and Oswiecm (Auschwitz), but it's certainly in the same direction.

If you still think there's no need, consider Liz Cheney's denial of torture:

She uses fill-in words which mean everything that torture means, but she will not say the Word, because admitting the Word admits guilt, and describing the act somehow does not bring the guilt that admitting the Word does.

And that's in a nut why we need a truth commission. Because we need to use the Word and its power and apply it where it ought to be applied.

We in America should not torture, not only because it's morally repugnant, but because it is not useful for gleaning information - we learned that in World War II.

And we need to make sure those who ordered such torture are imprisoned.

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