Friday, April 11, 2008

Answering the Question -- "Will They Get Away with It?"

Buhdydharma, the intrepid web proprietor of Docudharma, has posted an article today asking if, after the revelations by ABC news that basically the entire top administration hierarchy has been implicated in the oversight and implementation of a secret torture program, right out of the White House, if after such a massive revelation Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al. "will they get away with it?"
It has become obvious that left to her own devices Nancy Pelosi WILL let them get away with matter what they do or how horrendous "it" is. She is the only one with the real authority to stop them. And she, apparently, will not. The answer then, seems to be: Yes, they will. And a new administration is not the answer either.

The implications here are truly chilling. If the Democrats won't pursue prosecution....We are faced with a government with NO internal or external checks. A government not subject to the law. A government which can wage aggressive war and torture with complete impunity. That is NOT hyperbole, it is where we stand at this very moment in time.
My colleague at Docudharma describes the situation accurately. He also notes that the inaction of a pivotal figure in this drama -- the ostensibly liberal Democrat Nancy Pelosi -- marks her as a member of this same conspiracy, not least because "she was... partially informed that it was occurring." I made much the same point in an essay last December (also published at Docudharma and Daily Kos, with a vibrant discussion at each). Let's revisit what Pelosi had to say about her "briefings" in the light of today's knowledge:
"On one occasion, in the fall of 2002, I was briefed on interrogation techniques the Administration was considering using in the future. The Administration advised that legal counsel for the both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.

"I had no further briefings on the techniques. Several months later, my successor as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, was briefed more extensively and advised the techniques had in fact been employed. It was my understanding at that time that Congresswoman Harman filed a letter in early 2003 to the CIA to protest the use of such techniques, a protest with which I concurred."
It may be time to ask both Pelosi and Harman what they knew and when they knew it. But I think we already know the answer to those questions, and it's not a comforting one. The ABC revelations -- that the U.S. leadership, including the president, vice-president, national security officers and secretaries of defense and state, the attorney general and the head of the CIA are all implicated in the specific instructions given to torturers, and not only approving but directing such torture -- represent as stark a confrontation with the truth of the complete corruption and evil that lies at the heart of our government as any we will get. What I wrote back last December seems almost quaint in its naivete in describing a political path out of the wilderness:
Let not those who profess progressive politics and really want to change this country sit back in silence or disbelief and let this kind of betrayal stand. Now is the time to change things. Not tomorrow. Not in November 2008. Not in some other lifetime. If we fail to speak out now, our acquiescence weakens the entire progressive cause, and all the elections in the world will not make such a stain any cleaner, or go away.

We could start by asking for the resignation from the Speakership of Nancy Pelosi, and the resignation from the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairmanship of John D. Rockefeller.
Now I can see that even such elementary statements of justice are insufficient to address the crisis at hand, even when joined with slogans shouting for impeachment of the execrable criminals Bush and Cheney.

(By the way, I called Pelosi's office today, asking for the Speaker's reaction or any statement on the ABC newsstory revelations. I spoke to a couple of staffers in her San Francisco office, and each time was told, after hearing my question, that the person I wished to talk to "was not in right now." This comic episode reminded me of the title of Franz Kafka's first novel, Der Verschollene (The Man Who Disappeared, published, however as Amerika).)

Reading buhdydharma's latest plaintive post about the torture plotters in the White House, and their assault against elementary decency and political sanity, I realized the answer to his question could only be made with some advert to history, and the perspective the latter brings.

Answering the Question

So, will they get away with it?

Answer: in the short-term, yes. If there is no accountability or price the Bush team suffers for their crimes, there is no accountability or price the Democratic leadership suffers for their culpability or failure to act.

In the long-term, we will all pay. But the total bankruptcy -- political, moral, economic -- of the society will leave this entire crew, all the leadership of this society, including the full intelligentsia, inclusive of the blogosphere, as bankrupt. Bankrupt and ignorant of the lessons of history, lessons that were staring them in the face all the time, but they refused to acknowledge, drunk on the belief in their own omnipotency (in the case of the powerful) or in their own essential rightness (the case of the rest of us).

There is a straight line from the American and French revolutions, through the 1848 revolutions, the Paris Commune, the 1905 and 1917 Russian revolutions, the rise of fascism, the slaughters of World Wars I and II, the national liberation movements, the Cold War, the collapse of Soviet Stalinism, to the triumphalism of the "American Century"... this line steers and staggers between its central understandable component: the reality of the division of the world into classes of exploited and exploiter, and the struggles of the former, often blind and contradictory, and poorly led, to throw off the shackles of the latter.

The smug and oh-so-powerful leadership of this country is overreaching, much as Hitler overreached, and a similar catastrophe awaits all of us... unless... unless we can come together, throw off the weight of the bought-off Democratic Party, and make a real struggle for power against those who seek to control the entire world. I, frankly, don't see this happening. And I do not advocate adventurist forays to smash one's head up against a repressive governmental apparatus. All one can do is wait, patiently explain, and hope the lessons are learned before they are foisted upon us in the form of a total collapse of the society, or what is just as likely, another world war.

The real question to ask is: Will YOU (or WE) let them get away with it?


Annie said...

I've been calling it "the elephant in the room". Seriously, I comment about just this on Dan Froomkin's White House watch blog (under the username of Nequals1). i've been writing essentially the same comment every day hoping that it will gain traction, and that the message will get out:

Impeachment is the remedy for tyranny, and it is a duty, not an option, as proscribed by the Constitution. Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker, is charged with bringing forward articles of impeachment against all those who have broken their oath to protest, preserve and defend the Constitution. Failure to do that is itself an act of treason, and the same consequences and remedies apply.

Balkinization authors have been addressing your same questions, and their feeling is that none of the players will be brought to account unless they travel outside the US. Then, it seems, they are fair game for the international court.

Back here, without a full Constitutional restoration, we will remain ruled and not governed by a constitutional dictatorship.

Valtin said...

Annie, I'm in total agreement, though I'd say we have an "unconstitutional" dictatorship, as key aspects of protection in the U.S. constitution are abandoned, overturned or ignored in order to maintain the dictatorship.

But a dictatorship it is, essentially a military dictatorship, where the civilian front men polticians are totally subservient to the military and to the bankers and industrialists tied to the military-armaments-war business.

It's been this way since World War II. We've never recovered to the societal transformation engendered by the turn to "total warfare". All sorts of terrible crimes can take place, and as long as the U.S. population isn't too terribly inconvenienced, the rulers of the country are secure.

Of course, these rulers can't control everything and are vulnerable, especially as their greed and arrogance blinds them to the negative results of some of their policies. The time is coming when they may have to show more openly the iron hand of naked rule by force domestically. I only hope the American people as a whole wake up before this happens.

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