Monday, January 26, 2009

Republicans Put Hold on Holder

photo credit:

Senate Republicans Seek Assurance of No War Crimes Prosecutions

Ken Camp, writing for Northwest Progressive Institute Advocates cites several Republicans as willing to stop the process of confirmation unless Holder gives them a garauntee that Bush administration officials need not fear prosecution for crimes alleged. (if by alleged you mean they fucking confessed).

Here's my advice for Mr. Holder.

Lie to them. Tell them "We're interested in moving forward, not backward." Tell them "These men tortured and eavesdropped from a sense of deep patriotism and committment to Jesus." Tell them "We will not do that."

Then do it.

Look, the mere fact that torture is a subject of debate disgusts me. The analogy I like to use is that if you find yourself explaining to a truckload of teenagers that the proper way to dispose of unwanted puppies does not include tossing them at highway signs from a speeding vehicle, there is already a high level of social failure in place.

As soon as torture became a subject of debate we had already lost. As soon as Americans tortured people, however guilty they might have been, we gave the victory to the terrorists.

At the outset of the Pelopponessian War, Pericles gave a funeral oration for the first among the dead. He deliniated the many differences between Athens and Sparta. The telling point of the oration comes at the halfway point. He talks about what makes Athens great. It isn't their military. The Spartan military was its main claim to reknown (even though the Spartan military existed mainly as a defense against slave uprisings, their force on force conflicts were few and far between). No, what made Athens great was their love of theatre, and architecture. Pericles warns the Athenians that if they give up their love of art, music, monuments, commerce, all the things that had made them rich and great then the Spartans would have won regardless of the outcomes on any battlefield.

That's exactly what happened. In their surrender to fear and panic, the White House of George W. Bush moved away from the very foundation of American thought and action. The rule of law, not men. It's that devotion that led great men, like John Adams, to defend British Soldiers after the Boston Massacre. It's a mindset and rigorous morality that led Washington to specifically order that no prisoners taken by the American Rebels be tortured or mistreated. Even the Hessians, who had a reputation for torture and sadism against captured soldiers. Washington, in his wisdom, realized that our tactics define us. By ordering torture and having it done, Bush made torturers of all of us. He made us become who the terrorists said we were.

It Must. Be. Answered. The U.N. Commissioner for Torture has already warned President Obama that if the U.S. refuses to act on this issue, the U.N. will. Phillipe Sands, the lawyer who prosecuted Pinochet, has warned the same.

Mr. Holder, anyone who makes a demand like that on a prospective Attorney General, a demand that requires you ignore clear crimes while serving as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of our nation, does not deserve to be told the truth.

Lie to them. Get the job. Then follow your heart, your conscience, and your legal training.