Monday, December 10, 2007

When Caution Becomes Cowardice

From town politics to the national stage, I've watched the Democrats' overabundance of caution turn to cowardice. People too worried about what other people will think to do what's right. People too afraid to lose their stature to speak out. Fuck putting your town, state or country first lest it put an end to the gravy train. The Democratic Party as a whole is in need of an emergency testicular implant.

I won't rehash theories on what and when Sen. Rockefeller and Rep. Harman knew about the destroyed torture tapes. Nor will I prattle on about House Speaker Pelosi's apparent knowledge of waterboarding dating to 2002. Smarter people than I have said plenty already.

Obviously the CIA torture videos were tossed to protect the torturers and others from prosecution. In the current discussion, two far greater motivations are being overlooked:

  1. If torture were effective, the video wouldn't have been destroyed. Hundreds of hours of "interrogations" were recorded. I can't think of anything more valuable to torture proponents than visual evidence bolstering their case. Instead, the video showed torture for what it is: sick, useless and profoundly un-American.
  2. Another less obvious reason the tapes had to be tossed: The administration couldn't allow the specific questions to become public. What the torturers asked their prisoners would reveal way too much about the mindsets of Cheney and Bush. It would also put their attitudes on a time line. Both were not only actively urging torture but also provided specific lines of questioning.
Taken in this light, I'm surprised the CIA kept the tapes as long as they did.

On torture, impeachment, ending the Iraq war and too many other issues, the Democratic leadership has served us little else but bitter disappointment. Among past and present members of House and Senate Intelligence Committees, key Democrats were privy to some info about some aspect of the disgraceful torture debacle. They did nothing. They said nothing.

Yes, it is illegal to reveal classified information. Leaks put Dems at risk of being labeled "traitor" and worse. C'mon! What ever happened to the distinctly American notion that we should do what's right, honest and humane and damn the consequences? The never ending so-called "War on Terror" is not a blanket excuse to throw away those principles we hold so dear. Like bin Laden at Tora Bora, once we let go of our honor it's not easily recaptured.

In direct contrast, unnamed CIA analysts recently risked all: jail, their reputations and their careers. Threatening to go public if the Iran NIE did not reflect a nuclear program halted in 2002, these patriots forced the Bush administration to squelch their Iran war drums. This took muchos huevos grandes. They may still face retaliation with some Republicans pressing for an investigation. Unlike Senators and Congresspeople, a CIA analyst fired under such circumstances has few options upon returning to the private sector. It's not as if Blackwater or any other defense contractor will hire him.

The world is officially topsy-turvy. CIA analysts have more courage to stand up to the Bush Administration than Sen. Rockefeller (D), Rep. Harmon (D) and Rep. Pelosi (D). By keeping illegal Bush policies and decisions confidential, our Democratic leadership gives tacit approval to many of this Administration's actions. Their continued reluctance to come clean is troubling and misguided.

Beyond the moral arguments for full disclosure, why give Bush & co. any more power than they already have? The Dem's silence gives the impression specific confidential knowledge is being wielded as political blackmail. Nothing cuts a blackmailer at the knees like going public. Sadly, that would require an abundance of courage where courage is lacking.

Moreover, Capitol Hill Democrats still labor under the mistaken impression that the Bush Administration will occasionally obey the law. Dems think that keeping square with the Official Secrets Act also offers protection from the political damage that would result if their complicity were known. Stupid, stupid Dems. Republicans can't even follow the rules about not following the rules. This Administration has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to leak any info that may prove politically expedient. A new CIA leak puts Pelosi at a 2002 waterboarding briefing. Did Bush order the leak to embarrass the Speaker? John Aravosis sure thinks so.

Speaker Pelosi followed the letter of the law and got screwed. Had she leaked the Administration's torture policy back in 2002, Pelosi could have been trebly screwed. If the leak had been traced back to her, she may not have won reelection. Leaker Pelosi certainly would never been named Speaker of the House. But perhaps Bush and Cheney's shameful torture orgy could have been nipped in the bud.

That would have been courageous.



Liesl said...

Brilliant post! It sucks when your own party betrays your ideals.