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Parsing Purgatory

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Jayne Lyn Stahl
Message Jayne Stahl
Too bad Dante isn't around to see some of the political posturing, and chicanery coming out of the mouths of embedded hypocrites, and purveyors of the status quo, in the Bush administration. He would have especially liked the specious reasoning now used to rationalize Attorney General Gonzales' testimony before the Senate.

Instead of discussing the Terrorist Surveillance Program, current and former "officials" who were "briefed" on the program now contend that Gonzales met with Ashcroft, in 2004, to discuss data mining. (NYT) And what, pray tell, is data mining if not a form of "terrorist" surveillance. My, my, isn't there a visible point of confluence between the collection of personal information and the monitoring of so-called terrorists? One sure would think so.

If checking out people's web surfing habits doesn't constitute surveillance then what does, or does that, too, depend upon what one's "definition of the word sex is?" Anyone who suggests that eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mails and collecting personal information aren't part and parcel of the same process is using the same kind of twisted logic that justified hanging Saddam Hussein and razing Baghdad despite the absence of weapons of mass destruction because Saddam was a bad guy, after all.

But, the larger question here is why is it that an attorney general who has made a career of unabashed butt-kissing, who has alluded to even more pernicious intelligence programs which Congress never bothered to investigate, who has attempted to obstruct independent inquiry into his own misconduct, and egregiously misrepresented a totally inappropriate, and unwarranted visit to the hospital bed of his predecessor, why is he being given an opportunity to "correct" his misstatements? For cripe's sake, the guy has done more ducking, dodging, and evading than has been witnessed since the Iran-Contra days. Tweaking testimony, and censoring inconvenient facts in scientific reports appears to be an irrevocable Bush Co. legacy.

That said, how is it that a former president, William Jefferson Clinton, was impeached, and disgraced, for lying under oath before a grand jury about what amounts to little more than a love tryst in the Oval Office while an attorney general can not only get away with lying under oath before Congress, but have key congressional figures give him the ammunition to get away with doing so. One would expect to find the practice of covering one's ass only in hell, and surely not in purgatory. One can only wonder how it is that the chief law enforcement officer of a country can not only lie under oath, but be aided and abetted by official enablers, many of whom we've elected, who are working overtime to help him cover his tracks.

Yes, Dante would have loved a day like this, and he would have devised a special circle in hell for those who sodomize the truth, and condemn it to political purgatory. Clearly, the vice-president isn't the only one in Washington, D.C. who needs to have his battery replaced.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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