Thursday, April 30, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Did Condelezza Rice say what I think she just said? (See video below.) When confronted by Stanford students on the subjects of waterboarding and torture, Rice states:

"The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

If I may offer a paraphrase here, she basically states that if the president says its legal, that makes it say. I’ll just forego the convenient references to Nixon and say simply, bullshit.

I’m almost beginning to feel sorry for those individuals who seemingly authorized torture. It seems as though they are on pins and needles just waiting to for the other shoe to drop. They must be sleeping very lightly these days. However, the person I feel the most empathy now is President Obama.

On the day the United States invaded Iraq, I was a TA in graduate school. I forget what was on the syllabus that day, but the class wanted to talk about the invasion, so I capitulated.

Some of them were frightened, but most of them were concerned. They were concerned that the country was headed into war for reasons other than those stated by our leadership. Before they left I attempted to assuage their concerns by assuring them that our government would not lead the country into war without good reason. I told them that in their naivety they failed to realize the seriousness of war, and that the leadership knew that if the nation were to go to war on false pretenses, there would be hell to pay in the end. It appears that I was the one who was naïve.

Since then the truth has come out; it turns out that they were lying to us all the time. And then on top of that, it seems that they turned to torture to coerce captives into corroborating their story. Ain’t that some shit? Torture. That’s where we are now.

We now know that our country’s leadership ordered the torture of individuals we held. Can you think of anything more egregious and against everything this country is supposed to stand for? Torture. Well, I’ll be damnd.

And now our current leadership is attempting to decide whether we should prosecute those involved.

I believe that those persons involved should, at the very least, go to jail. In fact, jail is too good for them. They should be severely punished for their actions. They should be tortured. Take away all their money, and force them to live hand to mouth. But I can understand the administrations hesitation to pursue those ends.

The country is already in crisis, and the republicans are not helping with their obstinate opposition even in the face of their obvious lack of viable alternatives. Every move President Obama makes is contested. So what do you think will happen if the Justice Department moves to prosecute Bush administration officials for their role in torture?

It would simply become fodder for an impotent republican fire. It would be absolute anarchy. Attention and energy needed to pass President Obama’s agenda would instead go into following every detail of the proceedings. It would be like the OJ Simpson trial on steroids. You know how we do things.

Furthermore, we would become a country divided; the left would be out crying for blood, while the right would certainly be decrying the politicization of it all.

In a word, it would quickly become one big clusterfuck.

So then, that’s what President Obama and his leadership team are facing at this moment. They are facing the less of two evils. Unless President Obama is able to perform some political magic, he is facing a lose-lose situation. Now is when he really begins earning his money.


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