Monday, August 24, 2009


John Cole quotes Marc Ambinder...

Lieberman should be satisfied that Holder has decided to limit the investigation to twelve documented instances of abuse, and that the White House's first reaction here was to worry about morale at the CIA....

... after which John writes:

Is there another part of the government that we allow to just engage in wanton lawlessness, and then when the misdeeds are uncovered, the first priority in the investigation is the department's "morale?"

Well, there certainly has been in my lifetime, at least at the local level -- here in New York, until fairly recently, any attempt to investigate police brutality was deemed a betrayal of the people who are literally referred to as "New York's finest," even when some of the "finest" have been caught brutalizing suspects in a way that equals or even exceeds what was done to terror-war prisoners. (Remember Abner Louima?) People in other big cities who have sufficiently long memories know just what I'm talking about.

Regarding torture, I'm essentially hearing the same arguments I heard for years here on the subject of crime and cops -- that the "savages" will run rampant if the people we've charged with protecting us are held accountable for brutal misdeeds; that it's "us" versus "them," and we have to stand together with those who defend "us"; that "they" are innately violent and hell-bent on destroying what "we've" built, and prosecutions of those who use violence on behalf of "our" side help "them" destroy "our" society.

Here in New York it took years, a drop in crime, and a series of truly innocent victims (not just Louima but Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond) before whites in large numbers began to come to terms with the notion that we could afford to prosecute crime by cops, and that we needed to do so morally. I'm afraid we're still not there yet as a nation in our dealings with fighters and terror suspects from the Muslim world.


UPDATE, TUESDAY: I see that Glenn Greenwald has a post up entitled "What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report." Glenn posts excerpts -- already familiar to a lot of us now -- under the headings "Threats of execution," "Threats to kill detainee and his children," "Pressure points on carotid artery," "Threats to rape detainee's female relatives in front of him," and so on and so on.

But this is my point. Every American could be made to learn -- forced to learn, as Glenn says elsewhere -- about all this and there's absolutely no reason to assume that it would move the needle one inch. There's absolutely no reason to think it would, as they say, shock the conscience. Our consciences, yes. But not everybody's, or even a majority's.

You have to stop thinking like a liberal once in a while. Everybody in America saw the damn Rodney King tape. And those cops were acquitted.

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