It could be argued that of the panoply of evil of which human beings find themselves uniquely capable, nothing is as abominable as the deliberate infliction of mental or physical pain on a helpless captive person.
That a nation grandiosely referring to itself as the world's lone 'superpower' would, on the basis of very thin evidence, stoop to such behavior as using sodomy (even against innocent children), cramming people into coffin-like boxes, chaining them in stress positions, karate-kicking them (even to death), suffocating them, slamming their heads into walls, taking away their clothing, freezing them, using sensory deprivation and drowning, plus a hundred other cruel measures, gives the lie to that assertion. An evil power perhaps. Hardly a super one.
And now that we know that orders for torture came right from the very top of the unrepentant Bush Administration even before the twisted entitlement of the Yoo/Bybee memos, and even as it is revealed that torture was employed not to gain information but to bolster the false assertion that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Quieda and thus justify the indefensible invasion of Iraq, we are treated to ad nauseam appearances by the previously mute and bunkered Dick Cheney defending his actions and calling for more of the same.
It is unbelievable that a nation that calls itself Christian could even countenance a debate on torture, and, after killing perhaps a million innocent Iraqi citizens in an illegal war, call for more of the same in Afghanistan. Or to employ white phosphorous and other war crime weapons in either location. The hypocrisy and self-delusion are stunning.
One would think that such aberrant leaders would be held to task by an outraged public and by their political replacements. Instead, the American people get more of the same. Guantanamo will not close anytime soon, and contrary to Mr. Obama's statements, the outrages there have not ceased, but have become worse. Officials would rather keep innocent people imprisoned until they die, untried, rather than to admit to the embarrassment of having illegally imprisoned and tortured mostly innocent people. Bagram continues to be a hell-on-earth. We don't know how many others even exist. Children as young as eight remain imprisoned. Children are mercilessly abused as a method to intimidate their parents.
But Mr. Obama wants to 'move forward' even as remote control drones (they're Obama drones now) kill around 140 innocent Afghanis, including 99 children, one of them 8 weeks old. As usual, the military denies, lies, and then admits limited culpability while stressing how very much they value Afghan civilian lives. They even attempt to keep a straight face. Mr. Obama can't move forward when he's stuck sinking in innocent cold blood.
If Mr. Obama were to look back and take a lesson from some of America's darkest days, here's what he would find:
The Iraq invasion was conceived long before 9/11 which was simply used as a pretext for achieving 'full spectrum domination' of land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace as outlined in The Project for a New American Century, of which Dick Cheney was a founding member, and President Bush a willing dupe. The goal was nothing short of world domination, and Iraq and Afghanistan were pawns on a list which included Syria and Iran. PNAC spoke longingly of a 'new Pearl Harbor event' as a catalyst to galvanize fearful American opinion to allow it to have its way, which is exactly what happened after 9/11 (and don't forget that weaponized Lawrence Livermore anthrax that was since so conveniently blamed on a dead guy).
An investigation would reveal (indeed we already know) that torture was employed to establish a false link between Saddam and al Quieda in order to make a preconceived invasion more acceptable to the American people. (Lots of troops in Iraq still think that Saddam did 9/11.)
Since everything the people were told turned out to be lies, questions would inevitably arise regarding the catalyst itself, the new Pearl Harbor so useful to PNAC.
This, I submit, is what officials in the Obama Administration fear the most. An investigation of torture would inevitably lead to questions about 9/11. We know with certainty that the official version of events is a pack of lies; what if America had to confront the fact that 9/11 really was an inside job? (The recent finding of nano-thermite in WTC dust is just one more compelling argument.) It's even possible that Cheney has threatened to spill the beans if anyone comes after him for torture for which he has openly taken credit. Would a torturer refuse to stoop to blackmail?
Such a finding would so undermine Americans' core beliefs as to have very unpredictable consequences. It would mean that no American is safe. It would mean that government is not only corrupt to its very foundations, but also that it is a force of malevolence. It would mean that there is nothing in which to place one's faith. It would mean that the same forces that killed 3000 Americans on that day (and many subsequently) still operate behind the scenes in Washington. It would prove that over the last two terms, democracy was a thin illusion in America (and some would say since November 22, 1963). It would mean that at last there's nothing left to lose.
That's what they're afraid of.
Me, too. But bring it on anyway.