March 12, 2005
From the "I Did Not Know That" Department:
Hendrik Hertzberg, writing in The Talk of the Town from the February 14th & 21st edition of The New Yorker:
Critics of the Bush Administration can take comfort in the fact that the apparent success of the Iraqi election can be celebrated without having to celebrate the supposed wisdom of the Administration. Like the Homeland Security Department and the 9/11 Commission, the Iraqi election was someing Bush & Co. resisted and were finally maneuvered into accepting. It wasn't their idea; it was an Iraqi idea -- specifically, the idea of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Shiism's most prominent cleric. In a way, it was a by-product of the same American ignorance and bungling that produced the unchallenged post-Saddam looting and the myriad mistakes of the Coalition Provisional Authority. But this time -- for the first time -- the bungling seems to have yielded somthing positive.And then Hertzberg puts it all into perspective:
Iraq is still a very, very long way from democracy. And even if it gets there, the costs of the journey -- the more than ten thousand (so far) American wounded and dead, the tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children killed, the hundreds of billions of dollars diverted from other purposes, the lies, the distraction from and gratuitous extension of the "war on terror," the moral and political catastrophe of systematic torture, the draining of good will toward and sympathy for America -- will not necessarily justify themselves. But, for the moment at least, one can marvel at the power of the democratic idea. It survived American slavery; it survived Stalinist cooptation (the "German Democratic Republic," and so on); it survived Cold War horrors like America's support of Spanish Falangism and Central American death squads. Perhaps it can even survive the fervent embrace of George W. Bush.And speaking of "systematic torture," Jane Mayer ,in the same issue, writes about our government's wonderful "Rendition" program:
On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." Maher Ararr, a Canadian engineeer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush's statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that "you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother."How can people (specifically, all of those good Christians who voted for Bush) have been so outraged at Clinton for lying about his ex-marital affair but turn a blind eye when it comes to our fearless leader shamelessly condoning and lying about outsourcing torture?
(The Bush Administration gave the CIA extensive authority to send terrorism suspects to foreign countries for interrogation just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The New York Times reported on Sunday.Our job? To not let anybody get away with saying Bush is a great man. In fact, we must repeatedly tell the world he's a war criminal and a big, fat "Liar Liar" who has recently gotten "lucky" in Iraq -- no thanks to him.
The newspaper said President Bush signed a still-classified directive that gave the CIA broad power to operate without case-by-case approval from the White House in the transfer of suspects -- a process known as rendition.)