16 May 2007

Are We The Evil Empire?

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

-- Walt Kelley.

The link above, once again, recounts U.S. involvement in torture and it insistance on conducting trial based upon evidence obtained coercively. I didn't ask to be a citizen of an evil empire. I voted for the other guy, twice (although I did vote for one of the Democratic enablers, despite urging him to act otherwise).

I've published against it, chronicled and cited the bad judicial decisions that enambled it, named the names of the key enabling players in the legislative and executive branches (closest to home both of the Senators from Colorado, the Republican Congressional representative from Colorado, and John Salazar), and depaired over it. But, the simple fact of the matter is that our government tortures people in our name and is prepared to use testimony coerced in that manner in military tribunals where real due process isn't available and to execute people based upon those verdicts, even for crimes not previously recognized as against the laws of war.

A large share of our soldiers in the field think that torture is O.K., don't believe in the somewhat humane official rules of engagement, have commanding officers who don't care either, and wouldn't report a fellow serviceman who killed or abused an innocent man in the field. The Bush Administration has actively fostered this view, although is purports to prohibit an extremely narrowly defined version of torture, leaving that to our "allies" whom we know do it despite their official protestations that they do not.

We may not be the only country in the world that is so barbaric, but we are the only one other than China, that can meaningfully be called an empire.

We have destroyed our international credibility on human rights, and any sense of international good will towards us. The tragedy that is the Bush Presidency will not be over until his regime of unlawful acts end, are disavowed, are apologized for, and those responsible are tarnished to the full extent permitted by law in the face of an amnesty voted in by a Republican majority in Congress aided by a few traitors to decency like Ken Salazar.

Here in a little office in Denver's Capitol Hill, I am helpless to prevent this, and so are many thousands and millions of other good people of this country. But, at least, we can acknowledge the horrors that our leaders have engaged in, in our name, and disavow them and express the shame we feel that our government has done these things.

Our nation has the power to be a great force for good in the world. I am neither a pacifist, nor an isolationist. Military force is sometimes necessary. Sometimes force is the only response to force used by others. Sometimes, even covert actions are necessary. But, we didn't have to sell the soul of this country to fight terrorism and are less safe because of the manner in which we have tried to do so.

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