Most Americans either appear not to know or are doing their best to pretend it’s no big deal, but we are in the maw of a full blown moral crisis.
As difficult as it is to resist the impulse to write off American journalists and scholars as hopelessly compromised by partisan and economic allegiances, it is important and must be said that voices from those ranks have been raised. S. Hersh, J. Mayer, N. Klein, M. Parenti, F. T. Saussy and many others have courageously spoken truth to power. Those voices have been just as fully focused on rank and file Americans many of whom have done their best not to listen. That must come to an end.
Cheney’s nauseating infatuation with torture and miscellaneous forms of exotic abuse, reflected in his consciously deceitful comment during an interview on December 15, 2008, defending his authorization of torture as “remarkably successful,” should trigger alarm and wreak havoc to the conscience of every American. Did that happen? Where is the outrage? Why aren’t vast numbers of Americans flooding the streets to protest? Where are America’s religious leaders? Ignorance is always a choice; silence in the presence of evil inexorably becomes an embrace of it.
So, how do those of us with such high hopes and admiration for Barack Obama explain his decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with Bush-Cheney lawyers in his attempt on Thursday, May 29, to persuade a federal appeals court, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court in New York, to suppress classified statements by General David Petraeus and General Ray Odierno? These arguments have been made in the past and they have been rejected. As ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh has said in response to the new filing, “…it has no new arguments.” Witnessing President Obama joining ranks with Cheney’s fetid mob of criminals is pure agony.
What happened to President Obama’s assurance to the American Civil Liberties Union, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, that the documents would be released? What happened to cause him to so abruptly change his mind and decline to do so? Can anyone take seriously the ethically flaccid notion that the Obama administration did it in an effort to prevent the world from getting even madder at us?
President Obama has allowed himself to be maneuvered into a position defined by a devastating duplicity that can only lead to the compromise of his credibility as a leader and a moral force in the world. What has become increasingly obvious in recent months is that powerful, influential American journalists and political leaders are deep in a soulless, self-negating struggle to find a way to defend rape, torture and murder on the part of American forces under the direct orders of the Bush-Cheney administration. Suppressing photographic and written documents changes nothing. Renaming word games played by main stream journalists changes nothing. The contagion of the Bush administration’s malignant sensibility is pervasive and few Americans, including our president, appear to possess an effective immunity against it.
US General Antonio Taguba, a primary investigator of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004, although declining to do so at the time of his report, has recently made it clear that events at the Iraqi prison involved behavior of unprecedented depravity on the part of American personnel. Pentagon officials have simply lied about it all, claiming much of the abuses which were documented on film just didn’t happen. To borrow a label from I. F. Stone, it’s almost a given that the assorted corporate stenographers masquerading as journalists would so consistently fail to face the truth about all this, but for President Obama to decide to suppress information about those events with the pathetically inadequate comment that they “are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib,” and then attempt to defend the stupidity of his wrongheaded decision by claiming that the documents would “inflame” hatred of Americans if released is incoherent and insulting.
The courts are steadfastly correct in rejecting such transparent attempts to manipulate our system of justice. Let’s hope American judges have the spine to hold their ground.