People are Strange
3 hours ago
…I just cannot bring myself to believe that the full story will ever be told to our collective satisfaction. Even if every living American were someday to purchase and read the truth commission's collectively agreed-on bipartisan narrative, weaving together John Yoo's best intentions and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's torment on the water board, sweeping national reconciliation will elude us.
…[W]e already know the truth of what happened… We may not have every memo, and we may not be able to name every name. But do truth commissions alone ever reveal the full story? If we decline to hold lawbreakers to account, we may find out a whole lot of facts and arrive at no truth at all. Is the truth that if the president orders it, it isn't illegal? Or is the truth that good people do bad things in wartime, but that's OK? Is the truth that if we torture strange men with strange names, it's not lawbreaking? What legal precedent will this big bipartisan narrative set for the next president with a hankering for dunking prisoners?
…It seems that after 9/11, the solution to the problem of too much law was to simply do away with the stuff. And the solution to the lawlessness that followed 9/11? Do away with any legal consequences for the perpetrators. If there exists a more perverse method of restoring the rule of law in America than announcing that legal instruments are inadequate to address them, I can't imagine it.
…Nobody is suggesting that those who authorized torture and wiretapping were sadists or brutes. But they did a lot worse than mix stripes and plaids. They broke the law. They violated domestic and international laws, and they committed war crimes. They did so deliberately and with the "cover" of cynically bad legal memoranda. And those who have been entrusted as the nation's top law enforcers now claim that public disapproval is punishment enough.
…[As we try to imagine] a perfect truth commission or a perfect congressional inquiry (done by a perfect Congress that had suddenly grown a perfect spine),
it occurs to me yet again that we already have a pretty perfect system for investigating terrible wrongdoing and punishing wrongdoers. And we call it the justice system for a reason. For eight years we've been told, time and again, that the U.S. courts just aren't good enough to try terrorists, and that they aren't smart enough to monitor wiretapping, and that they aren't capable of keeping state secrets. Anyone who believes they are also not good enough to investigate government lawbreaking might reasonably be asked what's changed.Not that anybody asked me, but I would suggest that sadists and brutes were making policy with respect to torture and eavesdropping. We persisted for so long in inhumane interrogation methods that were plainly illegal, and plainly ineffective at getting accurate evidence, that the only rationales are (1) the pursuit of brutal pre-ordained "intelligence findings," or (2) the fact that somebody or -bodies liked the way it felt, being an all-powerful ruthless inquisitor. But we have such a terrible time in our culture separating the criminal from the crime. We can accept that a leering jarhead holding a dog leash is a torturer. We have trouble accepting that a man in a Savile Row suit might be one as well.