19 May 2009

Who in Congress Knew What When about Torture adds up to a mere Distraction

All this nonsense about who in Congress was told what when about torture is a distraction to the far more critical questions of who is responsible for leading our country into a criminal conspiracy to commit torture. I mean this quite literally: it is obvious that it's an intentional distraction, designed to create a false equivalency between policymakers in the former administration who actually created and promulgated an illegal policy of torture, and those in Congress who may have misinterpreted their duty to keep intelligence secret to mean they couldn't, or shouldn't, go public when some facts, to what extent remaining unclear, became known to them. Even if it were entirely true (which is dubious) that some in Congress knew, for example, that waterboarding was being conducted, but said nothing, focusing on that while doing nothing about the actual torture policymakers is like prosecuting a murderer's girlfriend because she knew about the crime while letting the murderer go free. I can see no conceptual difference.

When some are saying we shouldn't even investigate this issue because of so many pressing matters facing our country, it is doubly ludicrous for these same people to be focusing instead on this side-issue. I'm not justifying looking the other way in the face of information that should have led the likes of Jane Harmon, Jay Rockefeller, and Nancy Pelosi to cry foul (if in fact that's true, which is very doubtful). But such conduct, even if true, pales in comparison to the actual foul. That's just common sense, a commodity in very short supply these days in Washington.

In any case, it is now clear that the CIA's memos supposedly documenting what these Congressional leaders were briefed, are fogeries. One tell-tale: the use of the acronym "EIT" for enhanced interrogation techniques, a term not used in 2002-2003 when these records supposedly originated.

This nonsense must stop. We need to investigate the existing credible evidence of the widespread practice of torture by U.S. State actors in the period 2001-2004, because it damaged our country, is a very, very serious crime under our law, is an International War Crime and treaty violation, and because it clearly made our country less safe, not moreso. I have already argued at length for why this is a very grave matter that simply cannot be swept under the rug. The truth will out, if not now, then later. The longer we wait the more damage this terrible crime will have done to our nation. Those actually responsible for this must be identified, and what happened revealed, so that this monstrous criminal conspiracy is never repeated. That some in Congress knew some things and didn't tell, while a part of the story, is a small distraction compared to the bigger picture. Which must be kept in focus.

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