Things We Did Know, And Did Nothing About . . .

Mark Danner wrote an Op Ed piece for the Washington Post entitled, If Everyone Knew, Who’s to Blame? which appeared in yesterday’s WaPo.  In this opinion piece he recollects the political calculations that entered into our government’s decisions to pursue torture and fears that led the party out of power to avert its eyes from the lawlessness.

Cheney, et al. justified torture because it “protected us from further attacks.”  The most poignant line from Danner’s writing is this rebuttal of that justification:  “This argument, still strongly supported by a great many Americans, is deeply pernicious, for it holds that it is impossible to protect the country without breaking the law. It says that the professed principles of the United States, if genuinely adhered to, doom the country to defeat. It reduces our ideals and laws to a national decoration, to be discarded at the first sign of danger.”

The Democrats in Congress backed away from opposing “enhanced interrogations” for fear of being accused of “coddling terrorists.”  Interestingly, the Democrats lack of character on this issue was rewarded by the 2006 election results.

Danner convinces me that if we are ever to have any variety of moral standing in the world again, we will need to have a reckoning on our transgressions and fears that led to our adoption of torture.

Iggy Donnelly


Filed under Elections, Republicans, WAR, World Politics

8 responses to “Things We Did Know, And Did Nothing About . . .

  1. jammer5

    We failed in our diligence. We should have been all over our elected reps to make sure it didn’t happen, and be all over them to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    The RR, with their collective love of torture, guns and the death penalty, need to be shouted down every chance we get. That’s the tactic they use, and it worked for them for a long time. We need to fight for what’s right for this country, and fight against what’s wrong. If we really want change, we’re going to have to fight for it, and not roll over, as we did in the past.

    Danner’s Op Ed piece is dead on, and that’s the message we need to get across to our elected reps: The Constitution and Bill of Rights are there for a reason, and any attempts to bypass them are totally unacceptable.

  2. tosmarttobegop

    God loves Kit Bonn of Missouri! Here he is trying to point to how well the torture worked to stop future attacks on the U.S. He brings up the 2002 plot against L.A. that was found out and stopped in time in 2002. But is an example of how well the torture worked in 2003! And once again the examples of we water board our own troop to train them to resist torture. So water boarding terrorist suspect can not be considered as torture. As “we do not torture our own people!”.

    WELL THEN, if I have sex with my wife that is marital relation, So if I have sex with the neighbor’s wife against her will that is not rape that too is marital relation!
    It has been my argument for some time now, it is about what we do that matter.
    I love this point and am one I bring up: “This argument, still strongly supported by a great many Americans, is deeply pernicious, for it holds that it is impossible to protect the country without breaking the law. It says that the professed principles of the United States, if genuinely adhered to, doom the country to defeat. It reduces our ideals and laws to a national decoration, to be discarded at the first sign of danger.”.

    We are left with some very serious questions and decision to make that involves not just how we handle external forces but some internal, self-exam of our American soul.
    The answers to that internal self-exam are the hardest to deal with. For the answer is either we are amoral and must accept it. Or we are the hardest of all things moral no matter what the stimulus.

    But to accept we are an amoral people means we stand for nothing and admit that our President was a war criminal to ourselves. Hitler was a war criminal, the emperor of Japan was a war criminal and the list of leaders who committed crimes against humanity goes on. The measure of what Bush did compared to that of what the above mention did.
    fades, but the intent seems the same and the soul takes as much darkness.

    The claim that it was done in the name of protecting the American people seems to be fading almost daily as more information comes to light. As more of those who were involved come out to state that the goal was not so much to gain information on future attacks as it was to convince the detainees to link Saddam with Al-Qaeda and 9-11.

  3. Several parts of this upset me deeply —

    1. That our great country had leaders who had no respect for how and why America deserved to hold her head high with dignity — leaders who directed actions that made America no better than any other country of lawlessness.

    2. The claim that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were due to a few rotten apples among enlisted personnel, and leaders with no conscience who made scapegoats out of those soldiers. I doubt the lives of those soldiers will ever be the same.

    This abuse of enlisted personnel and the dragging of our great country into the mud was perpetrated by the same people who called Americans traitors because we dared to question the war in Iraq. The same people who will be protected and supported luxuriously by our tax dollars for the rest of their lives.

    And finally,

    3. That prisoners were tortured because our country’s leaders were desperate to find justification for their trumped-up decision to invade and occupy Iraq, and their lying claims that Saddam was tied to Al Qaeda.

  4. Busting the Torture Myths

    Scott Horton, who has led coverage of Bush era wrongdoings, exposes three pervasive myths—and the surprising reason Cheney and Rove are keeping the issue alive.

    The Broken Myths

    1. Torture was connected to some “rotten apples,” mostly enlisted personnel from rural Appalachia who were improperly supervised.

    2. The torture techniques were derived as a last resort, only after other techniques had failed and that interrogators in the field pushed for their use.

    3. Bush lawyers may have made “honest mistakes” in their legal analysis owing to the extreme pressure that existed in the immediate wake of 9/11, in which they were pressed quickly to give opinions before matters could be fully evaluated.

    The Emerging Reality

    1. The impulse to torture had a clear motivation: Cheney and Rumsfeld were increasingly desperate to find evidence that would support their decision to invade and occupy Iraq.

    2. The torture trail started and ended in the White House.

    3. Experts advised the administration lawyers that their opinions on torture were wrong and possibly criminal in nature and the lawyers attempted to destroy evidence of this fact.

    Obama insists America must “look forward.” He views the torture question as resolved by a series of orders he issued coming into office. But Cheney and Rove suggest another idea. It’s clear that in their view America is just one more 9/11 attack away from a transformation in which their use of the “dark arts” will again carry popular endorsement and provide a powerful wedge issue to use against Obama. Obama’s optimism about closure on the torture issue may therefore be seriously misplaced.

    details at:

  5. iggydonnelly

    Another myth that is being busted is the one that torture produced quick results. In other words we only had to do it a “little bit” and the results were far reaching and helpful.

    If our torture worked so fast, why did we have to waterboard Abu Zubaydah 83 times?

    See the NY Times story on this subject:

  6. iggydonnelly

    If I was a little more paranoid, I’d begin to think that Phillip Bownlee was stealing my blog-thread ideas.

    I am going to see what kind of luck I can have putting together a story/thread on “signers” – those road side panhandlers who have signs.

  7. This is a good perspective! 29-year-old conservative wunderkind Ross Douthat breaks into The New York Times today with his first column: “Cheney for President.” For his debut, Douthat has gone the counterintuitive path: “Watching Dick Cheney defend the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, it’s been hard to escape the impression that both the Republican Party and the country would be better off today if Cheney, rather than John McCain, had been a candidate for president in 2008.” Dick Cheney would have been the “diamond-hard distillation” of “real conservatism”—“a conservatism of supply-side economics and stress positions, uninterested in social policy and dismissive of libertarian qualms about the national-security state.” “Disciplined,” “ideologically consistent,” and “cuttingly effective”—“when [Cheney] went down to a landslide loss, the conservative movement might – might! – have been jolted into the kind of rethinking that’s necessary if it hopes to regain power.”

    Cheney for President

  8. lilacluvr

    Sounds like Ross Douthat and Meghan McCain are on the same page regarding the current state of the Republican Party.