September 24th, 2004

flavored with age

Whorin'

Today's Ludic Log: a revision and refinement of my post here yesterday about Bush's national security record. Sorry for the redundancy, but those who read it, you'll find some new links worth looking at, including one to the despressingly revelatory Schlesinger Report.

I can't put it more plainly than this: foreign civilians, likely innocent of any crime, are being tortured to death by American soldiers. Five at a minimum, by the military's own estimation. Possibly as many as twenty-eight, and many believe that number (from Schlesinger) to be a grave underestimate. It is quite clear that this is not the act of rogues or rowdies, nor of overzealous underlings, but an extension of official policy, with a precedent made clear by early efforts of administration employees to exempt our forces from the restrictions of the Geneva Conventions and circumvent international laws against torture. So far there has not been one single token resignation at the higher levels over this scandal, surely the most shameful in modern military history.

The America I love and believe in does not torture people to death. It fights against those who do. And if, through some horrible chaotic jumble of mistakes, it does torture people to death, it does the decent human thing and demands that those implicated quickly and apologetically remove themselves from positions of authority. It certainly does not deny, minimize and shunt blame at every opportunity.

If you want no other reason to oppose the sitting president (and there are many, starting and ending with the ruin he is making of our economy but with a wide range in between), it is this: if we are to rob the terrorists of their ideological ammunition; if we are to make our opposition to the likes of al-Q'aeda and Saddam Hussein something more meaningful than naming sides and arbitrarily choosing one; if we are to fulfil the promise of this amazing, beautiful idea of a country -- we must not do things like this. We must not. That this administration has met the Abu Ghraib abuses with little more than a sheepish shrug says more about their lack of fitness for command than I ever could.

Sorry to be so full of dread, folks, but there are times when I can't escape it. I'm leaving town today to visit someone who makes me feel pretty good about life, and when I get back, I'll go back to the jokoids, jokettes and jokinas that constitute the enjoyable portion of this journal. It's just that the last two days, I can't get the images of the guy in the hood, the filthy prisoner cupping his genitals, the old man with a boot on his neck, out of my mind. There's something infinitely depressing about seeing those images and thinking: "We did that."