Not too often nostalgic, you have to begin to yearn for the good ol' days when sexual affairs were kept private, medical conditions were hushed up better than any HIPPA law could do today, and spies stayed anonymous. Okay, so that's kind of pushing it - we like it when our press is able to report all the in-depth stories that they would have possibly deemed indecent to publicize in decades past. As a nation, we covet our information like Marion Jones coveted gold medals and a good reputation - but like her, perhaps we go a bit too far, and later come to rue the results, because we can't delete from our memory what we learned. We may have held the gold medals for a moment, but it's so much harder to give them back than not having them at all. But that argument said, its our right to learn whatever we can, and its the intelligence community's job to keep classified whatever they don't want us to know. Most people have seen enough spy movies and television shows to help reinforce that notion.
But yesterday, the Times came out with a scathing report, citing insider justice department sources that in 2005, a year after the public ruling against torture was made, a "secret" judgment was made by the justice department, revisiting the aspects of interrogation tactics, and supposedly the ruling allowed for interrogation officials to use multiple tactics, such as water boarding, freezing temperatures, etc. to try and force information out of terror suspects. Now, before we discuss the fact that this is completely unethical and categorically hypocritical, not to mention insane for the Bush administration, lets look at the fact that this story was even reported.
While torture of ANY kind is wrong, and we should carefully adhere to the long overdue 2004 ruling calling it "abhorrent," Bush and his cronies have to feel utterly defeated that this "secret" ruling found legs and wandered out into the open (with metaphorical fishnets and red high heels on no less). Alberto Gonzales, that master of the phrase "I do not recall," can at least be credited with not letting this one leak out of his office while still employed there.
While this "secret" ruling is most likely abhorrent in itself (though we'll probably never see the actually ruling), you have to admire the fact that Bush was essentially trying to protect the American people's collective conscience. It's fair to say most people disapprove of torture. Rightly, they judge that if we are going to walk into our people's countries, in preemptive strikes and the like, we better be bringing a superior society to them, and that society starts with us and the values we engender. If we are blissfully unaware of torture committed by secret government agencies because of cover ups, and virtually no proof, Americans can claim ignorance and go on spouting our values of truth and justice in an unjust world. But because we have found out about the torture tactics committed by our own government, especially while living in a climate that is hyper charged with fear, and the teetering see-saw of civil liberties on one hand, and security on the other - we must speak out. And what we have to say is that this type of behavior, even when performed with skewed yet good intentions, is incontrovertibly wrong, and under no circumstances should it continue. Lets not forget, we all have the inalienable right to become a suspect for anything, no matter how innocent, perhaps for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or our soldiers need our protection as well - how can we be supporting them if they are basically giving other countries the green light to commit similar atrocities upon them, because hey, our country does it too.
(Note: my previous post about Cheney, a Cask of Amontillado, and bricks was made before I learned of the Times report... good foreshadowing, though, don't you think?)