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I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have "made it." Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former secretary of state Colin Powell.
Why would they want to whitewash torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of torturers in this country and abroad?
And why is it that they seem to value more their entre'e into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation's soul and reputation?
What's Holding Holder?
One might say that Attorney General Eric Holder is proving himself to be part of that "nation of cowards" that he called the United States in a different context; i.e., our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where's Holder's courage then?
Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former vice president Dick Cheney's public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.
Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? "Okay, so waddaya gonna do 'bout it!" It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally effective with those who felt not quite up to the challenge.
Looks very much as if Cheney sized up Holder correctly. During his confirmation hearings, Holder manfully agreed with Sen. Patrick Leahy that waterboarding, which subjects a person to the panicked gag reflex of drowning, is torture.
But Holder has been out to lunch since then, no doubt leaving Cheney and his torture-friendly friends smirking at having been correct in taking the measure of the new attorney general. Call it chutzpah, intimidation, bullying-whatever; it does seem to be working.
Cheney endorsing waterboarding; Holder labeling it torture; and-Hello? Anyone home? Deafening silence.
Never mind that Holder, like President Barack Obama, took a solemn oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land. Why are they still afraid of Dick Cheney, whom even the neo-con editors of the Washington Post three and a half years ago branded "Vice President for Torture?"
Profile in Cowardice
Holder seems to be taking his cue from the pitiable Colin Powell, now traversing the country giving lucrative speeches on leadership. Powell knew he was welcome in the club, or in this case the White House, only as long as he toed the line and was willing to offer up what was left of his reputation to the Bush/Cheney war effort.
True, in one brief spurt of behind-the-scenes assertiveness, Powell insisted that arch-prevaricator (and former CIA director) George Tenet sit behind him during Powell's unforgettable/unforgivable speech at the UN on February 5, 2003. Could he have been so unaware as to think this might somehow shame the shameless Tenet into coming clean about the cooked intelligence?
No way. And he knew it. Powell had already confided to then-British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that the case against Iraq was what in the Bronx is called a "crock."