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Off. Off. Off. Off. Off.

I wish to God we lived in another world, where Jeanne d’Orleans could take my breath away by saying something, anything other than this:

Italian politicians are furious that their government may have been involved with torture, and a prosecutor, Armando Spataro, has opened an investigation into the charges.
That’s what is supposed to happen. Decent people get angry when they find out their country is consorting with thugs. They demand answers. I’d almost forgotten that.

We almost all of us have, haven’t we? —We are all bad apples, now.

In November 2002, a newly minted CIA case officer in charge of a secret prison just north of Kabul allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets, according to four U.S. government officials aware of the case. The Afghan guards—paid by the CIA and working under CIA supervision in an abandoned warehouse code-named the Salt Pit—dragged their captive around on the concrete floor, bruising and scraping his skin, before putting him in his cell, two of the officials said. As night fell, so, predictably, did the temperature. By morning, the Afghan man had frozen to death. After a quick autopsy by a CIA medic—“hypothermia” was listed as the cause of death—the guards buried the Afghan, who was in his twenties, in an unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery used by Afghan forces, officials said. The captive’s family has never been notified; his remains have never been returned for burial. He is on no one’s registry of captives, not even as a “ghost detainee,” the term for CIA captives held in military prisons but not registered on the books, they said. “He just disappeared from the face of the earth,” said one U.S. government official with knowledge of the case.
The CIA case officer, meanwhile, has been promoted, two of the officials said, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the matter. The case is under investigation by the CIA inspector general.

How many more names await the chance to become a ghost? How many more causes of death are yet to be ginned up? How many more families will never be notified?

New Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, under pressure while he awaited his confirmation hearings late last year, repudiated a controversial August 2002 memo that CIA officials carefully solicited from the Justice Department for legal authorization on renditions and the agency’s treatment of Qaeda prisoners. Today the CIA has dozens of detainees it doesn’t know how to dispose of without legal procedures. “Where’s the off button?” says one retired CIA official. “They asked the White House for direction on how to dispose of these detainees back when they asked for [interrogation] guidance. The answer was, ‘We’ll worry about that later.’ Now we don’t know what to do with these guys. People keep saying, ‘We’re not going to shoot them’.”

Professor John Yoo, one of the banal engineers of this monstrous machine of split-haired technicalities and unnumbered flights and false-flag kidnappings, thinks we all had our chance to press that off button, and chose not to:

He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”

If I believed for a moment that were true, Professor Yoo—that we had had last year a full and frank exchange of views, seen clearly what had been set in motion, and had soberly decided our safety could only be secured at such an appalling price—then I would write this whole damned country off off off. But the arc of the universe is long, and your name will be broken on it; your legacy will be that of a moral footnote: what not to do. What not to be.

Of course, moral outrage is nothing more than a laughable beginning:

Amnesty International, the international human rights organization, noted that the Bush administration has turned over prisoners arrested in the battle against terrorism to the same countries it cites in the report for torturing prisoners.

We must turn it off. All of it. And then start down the long hard road of making what amends we can.

(My goodness, were there that many bad apples? Is it possible there were that many bad apples in the whole country?)

  1. Kevin Moore    Mar 4, 09:02 PM    #
    Don't forget your towel.

  2. rkent    Mar 9, 09:41 AM    #
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    velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com, and to ask you to add us to your lists, or just reply or comment on any of our postings.

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