Regarding today’s torture report (and thank God they are finally calling it that, torture, instead of “enhanced interrogation techniques”), I’m not seeing a whole lot that we didn’t already know — it’s just nice to have confirmation that yes, we did use techniques like paying other countries to be our proxy torturers, and that the CIA did repeatedly lie to Congress, and all the other rot that came from our endless wars in the Middle East.
All I want to add is that, maybe this wasn’t due to mistakes or lax oversight or an “end justifies the means” mindset. My hypothesis is this: torture was the end and not the means. Or to put it more accurately: torture was a means, not to extract information, but to transform America into a darker, crueler place more fitting to the man who called the shots from 2001 to 2009. I assert that terrorism or 9/11 was just a pretext for torture, and it was actually part of an intentional and well-thought-out effort by the Dick Cheney Administration* to coarsen America, turn it more cruel and dispense with what Cheney must regard as “slave morality.”
What I mean is this. Here are some things that America routinely engaged in after Cheney was through with it:
Officially sanctioned torture. I don’t mean Abu Gharib, atrocities by rogue and unsupervised personnel. I mean, sanctioned by everyone up to and including the man who really ran the White House.
The routine use of mercenaries. Blackwater (now rebranded as “Academi“) and its ilk are bands of mercenaries, full stop. If we are abandoning the euphamism of “enhanced interrogation,” then it’s time we also abandon the euphamism of “private security contractors.”
The hostile occupation of foreign countries as routine business. Back in more (relatively) civilized times, we would invade, get rid of whatever despot that was pissing us off, and then most importantly — get the hell back out as soon as possible. Use any example you want: Grenada, Iraq ’91, even Germany and Japan. Not so much anymore. We haven’t had real peace in going on 14 years. In our bleak future, just as in the future of Warhammer, there is only war. Makes you yearn for the days of gunboat & cruise missile diplomacy, doesn’t it?
Executive abuse of power that has become the norm. Remember “signing statements”? Cheney’s vast expansion of executive and bureaucratic power, at the expense of the legislature, is now pretty much set in stone. Obama’s recent unilateral amnesty has Cheney to thank.
And so much more: no-bid contracts, Halliburton, deceit, refusal of oversight, domestic wiretapping, new secret courts and Star Chambers, and Cheney’s legendary personal secrecy to the point where not even his location was known to the press as a matter of course.
And I assert this was all intentional and it was all part of a package to make this place more cruel, more brutal and more Nietzschean by the most foul villain to ever control the presidency, a man who makes Nixon look like Jimmy Carter, a man who preferred to hide in shadows, a man who is 100% honest when he states he has no regrets.
At least we are renouncing one small part of the Cheney legacy. Draining the Cheney venom out of American governance is a task that will take generations, if it is possible at all — let’s hope this is a good first step.
(* the figurehead of the government at the time was uncomfortable with torture, and I believe him. Bush wasn’t an evil man, per se — just weak and easily manipulated by those who were. That is why they made him president to begin with.)