Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Terrible Stain George W. Bush Left Behind

The madness of the Bush administration yet has to find it's Shakespeare.... Until then we can only keep watching TV and read the papers and blogs, and wait for the day when he is dumped in history's garbage bin.   

So much went wrong during his two periods of power misuse that one feels numb. But we must preserve our ability to feel outrage and spell it out, like Bob Herbert did in his New York Times column today (my italics): 
 
When the constraints of the law are unlocked by the men and women in suits at the pinnacle of power, terrible things happen in the real world. You end up with detainees being physically and psychologically tormented day after day, month after month, until they beg to be allowed to commit suicide. You have prisoners beaten until they are on the verge of death, or hooked to overhead manacles like something out of the Inquisition, or forced to defecate on themselves, or sexually humiliated, or driven crazy by days on end of sleep deprivation and blinding lights and blaring noises, or water-boarded.

To get a sense of the heights of madness scaled in this anything-goes atmosphere, consider a brainstorming meeting held by military officials at Guantánamo. Ms. Mayer said the meeting was called to come up with ways to crack through the resistance of detainees.

"One source of ideas," she wrote, "was the popular television show ‘24.’ On that show as Ms. Mayer noted, “torture always worked. It saved America on a weekly basis."


Ms. Mayer is Jane Mayer, the author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.

Bob Herbert continues:

Ms. Mayer noted that Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the late historian, believed that “the Bush administration’s extralegal counterterrorism program presented the most dramatic, sustained and radical challenge to the rule of law in American history.”

After reflecting on major breakdowns of law that occurred in prior administrations, including the Watergate disaster, Mr. Schlesinger told Ms. Mayer: “No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world — ever.”

Americans still have not come to grips with this disastrous stain on the nation’s soul. It’s important that the whole truth eventually come out, and as many of the wrongs as possible be rectified.


Hans Sandberg

Click here for a review of Mayer's book.

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