Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back home !

Yes, Dorothy, you’re right---there’s no place like home.  Time to mothball the passport and hang around here for a good long while--- besides giving J a big hug at the AMS airport this morning, the most pleasant experience of the day has been buying a 30day Metrocard.  Haven’t done that in a while---so now I am committed !!


 As I write this, on the plane back from Amsterdamn, the Obamites were still struggling with the issue of what to do with the torturers at the CIA and the Justice Dept legal teams that abetted their activities.  I’m glad to learn that those who favor a more comprehensive investigation are winning the day.

This is not a simple issue, in the same way that war crimes trials are never cut and dry.  The refrain of “I was just following orders” simply won’t do, will it?---it didn’t satisfy at the end of World War II, then again during Vietnam, and won’t work in the here and now.  The fact of waterboard torture, which was never in doubt, has been amplified in its moral vacancy through the sheer number of incidents---perhaps 100 or more times for several of its victims.  For me, the rate of incidence has always been beside the point---if 100 waterboardings affront our moral sensibilities, then why don’t 5? 

My theory is that this is all about Cheney.  A thorough, no-holds-barred investigation of how the chain of command became ethically challenged will eventually lead back to him.  And will reveal the pressures from the very top levels to punish the suspected terrorists into subjugation. 

In the meantime, there are bigger questions to be discussed and resolved through an investigation----namely, what WILL we allow in the name of protecting the American homeland?  Sure, there is no acceptable way to ‘value’ the loss of 3000+ lives on 9/11 to aid the moral calculus about acts of espionage, disruption, assassination, and torture that continue to be perpetrated on our behalf by the government.  The Israelis, for example, must have long ago decided that virtually any military or quasi-military activity in support of the defeat of its enemies will be condoned.  If we, like our brethren in the Holy Land, come to the conclusion---as Cheney et al must have argued—that we are/were in a similar battle for our survival, then we have quite an interesting set of assumptions about ourselves to be revisited.  And perhaps recalibrated. 

For 200 years, we have walked a fine line between protecting civil liberties and human rights versus going after the ‘bad guys’.  And, in a nutshell, we mostly come down in favor of the notion that our basic freedoms trump the expediency of easy capture and punishment of wrongdoers.  Since there are no hard and fast rules in this delicate dance, each instance must be carefully weighed.  Let’s have this national conversation out in the open.

 Put me on the list of those who believe we should rule out inhumanity at the CIA and bring those responsible to account.

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