Thursday, April 25, 2013

Enhanced Obfuscation

There's something sad about the hoopla surrounding the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library today, something beyond the humorous notion that a guy who seemed to place no value on intellectual attainment is now opening a library. That something is exemplified by this article in Foreign Policy by John Hudson:

Not sidestepping controversy, Condoleezza Rice will defend the Bush administration's enhanced interrogation and rendition program at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on Thursday.

At Bush library, Condoleezza Rice to defend enhanced interrogation practices

Right off the bat, we see the deliberately obfuscating reference to "enhanced interrogation", which is torture by both U.S. law and common sense. To me, that particular euphemism epitomizes the cowardice and complicity of the part of the U.S. press that covers the federal government. No one will dare call torture for what it is, if a U.S. government official insists otherwise. After all, no one wants to be judgmental, right?

By the logic of the U.S. press, murder could be re-labeled as "enhanced use of weapons".

Sadly, that's not the worst of it:

"The president asked two very important questions in the decision to use these techniques," says Rice of her former boss's interrogation program. "He asked the CIA if it was necessary and he asked the Justice Department if it was legal. Both departments answered yes."

"Only when he was satisfied that we could protect both our liberties and our security did he signal that we could go ahead," says the former secretary of state. "The fact that we have not had a successful attack on our territory traces directly to those difficult decisions." At Bush library, Condoleezza Rice to defend enhanced interrogation practices

Nowhere does the article point out the obvious flaws in this argument. Maybe the author thought they were as obvious as I do, but the use of the phrase "enhanced interrogation" suggests otherwise. So, let me point out a couple of rather obvious ones:

First, that a President could appoint unethical sycophants to run government agencies who will tell him exactly what he wants to hear, and then hears what he wants to, shouldn't be a justification for any idea, no matter how brilliant. There were plenty of folks both at the Defense Department and the Justice Department who knew that torture was both illegal and unproductive.

Second, and maybe this is more important in light of this next quote, torture was clearly illegal both by U.S. law and international treaties we had signed. What in the world would possess a leader to not seek out alternative opinions? Only two possibilities occur to me - either he didn't want to, or he didn't care. Neither strikes me as a particularly desirable trait for a national leader.

Finally, there's this bit, which is why Barack Obama's picture appears at the top of this article:

The remarks may cause something of an awkward moment today, as they coincide with Barack Obama's visit to the Bush library. Though Obama and Bush have shared many counterterrorism policies, enhanced interrogation remains a key sticking point between the two administrations, with the president on record opposing Bush administration policies. "I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationals were used, it was a mistake," Obama said in 2009.

At Bush library, Condoleezza Rice to defend enhanced interrogation practices

What President Obama also said is that he wouldn't "look backwards", which means he refused to prosecute anyone for the acts he admitted were illegal. That's why Condolezza Rice and all the other sorry excuses for human beings who peopled that administration can go around bragging about what a great job they were doing when they grabbed up groups of random foreigners and brought them to our various "Black Sites" to be tortured, instead of enjoying a stay at one of those institutions.

If there's any justice in the world, the Barack Obama Presidential Library will be built right across the street from the G.W. Bush Presidential Library. It will be constructed using the worst practices possible, with absolutely no quality assurance or safety inspections. No one will be prosecuted or sued for this shoddy work, of course, because that would be looking backward. And, of course, there will be no windows placed anywhere it's possible to see that earlier library.


One Fly said...

I'll say nothing except for the whole thing from the very beginning is soooo fucking disgusting and the rewriting of history for the likes of all of these people is working quite nicely

Cujo359 said...

As Patrick Stewart once observed, it's good to be the King.

Expat said...

With W(astrel) Bush 43,a mere kinglet will suffice. Still, after all the trillions drained from the Treasury, a waste of space, loss of time and abuse of treasure.

Cujo359 said...

Wouldn't that make him an Archduke? Not too clear on rank among the royalty. In any event, these have been thirteen years I'd really like to do over.