Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Redacted Nation

Later today, the Senate Intelligence Committee will release its long-anticipated -- and for many, long-dreaded -- report on torture during the Bush years.

Forces have been arrayed across the conservative spectrum to counter the meat of the report, much of will, no doubt, be redacted beyond recognition. If the CIA had its way, the entirety of the report would be redacted. Who would have thought they'd want that?

Everybody in the world that already knows our lawlessness. What we did -- or was done in our name -- was as despicable as it was worthless. We never needed to torture people, and yet the biggest pushback against the report will be that torture was "effective."

Okay, it was despicable, but it was worth it.

We could go back and forth for eternity and never get to the simple truth that what the Bush administration did in the 2000s was to destroy the illusion that America stood for eternal values enshrined in our charter, that we were the indispensable country founded on eternal principles.

Now we have no claim to those values, those principles. It's those principles that have been redacted, whatever lines in the tortured torture report are spared.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice et al are beyond war criminals: They are the destroyers of dreams, of our nation's honor, however vaporous it's been at times. Now, the American promise is a hollow one.

No matter how they and their ilk flap their gums in coming days, their defense is toothless.

However America's confession may be covered by those thick, desperate black lines, they are the mark of Cain, revealing more to the world than any defense that can be mounted. We are laid bare, our cowardice on display.

We can never redact this.
Update. I forgot to mention the obvious: Many who protest that releasing the report will endanger American lives also protest that it wasn't torture, that it was legal. Come on, if it was legal, why will it be so upsetting? I don't buy it, and neither will rational actors around the world.

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