Friday, May 15, 2009

On Torture, Pelosi, and What Happened

The Nancy Pelosi torture controversy is a slight one in terms of it's relative gravity, but what it does represent is an opportunity, perhaps one with bipartisan potential, to begin a serious investigation into who knew what when, an investigation that by it's very nature will lead to a good look at how the government, and by extension the citizenry, was manipulated, by whom, which in turn will lead to an examination of why the nation was manipulated, exactly what the end game was, and oh yes, to what extent is that game still being played.

See, the manipulation is the thing. The true-blues are always quick to remind us how we felt on September 11, 2001 and the months of fear and paranoia that followed, but I think a more important reference date might be September 11, 2002. By then it was possible to sense a certain stagecraft in the frequent warnings and terror alerts. Osama morphed into Saddam, and targeted aircraft were replaced by atomic bombs. It seemed unlikely that a nation as reduced in power and in influence as Iraq could be such a threat, not to mention Iran (who's only enemy of note was Iraq) or the belligerent but ineffectual government of Kim Jong-il. And of course there were the terrorist sleeper cells that the FBI and CIA could never quite finger, the lunch boxes abandoned near subways, the unguarded water supplies and food stocks and nuclear plants, the countless horrors that flooded the airwaves.

And yet, were these fears any more unlikely than the very idea that an American president and his administration would falsely perpetrate these fever dreams? See, the manipulation is the thing. And by September 11, 2003, six months into the Iraqi war with WMDs being reduced to a punch line, there was no longer a reason for anyone in a 'position to know' that the climate of fear was not at least in part an exploitation of the American society at large. But to what ends? A million theories have bloomed...

When I use the phrase 'anyone in a position to know', I refer to those who were not paralyzed by dread and apprehension, and needless to say, the fearful constituted a majority of Americans at the time. I refer to those who still had the ability to analyze and understand certain shreds of reality in a sea of misinformation. I refer in particular to those who had access to a higher level of data, which, at least in theory, includes every member of congress. By September 11, 2003, Nancy Pelosi had long had the knowledge of American torture, but what she no longer had by this date was any justification for it's use. This would have been a fine time for her and certain powerful others to speak out, even if it meant they would be derided as fools and traitors, even if it meant sacrificing their political future.

Perhaps we can skip 9/11/04 by pretending there was a game plan to end the Bush nightmare which could only succeed through his replacement, although it is hard to imagine that anyone would have been allowed to defeat the regime in a clampdown still so strongly controlled. But it is quite clear that after November 2, 2004, silence no longer served by much purpose beyond self-preservation. Is there any doubt that without the inept handling of Iraq and the then forgotten Afghanistan conflict, there would have been actions in Iran, Syria, and ever onward, stronger surveillance, fresh new horrors, and Rove's vision of the hundred year Reich? There should have been endless calls for investigations, endless bean-spilling, and even if it was futile, endless calls for impeachment. Instead, with only a few exceptions, there was endless silence.

The Grand Plan (whatever it was, assuming that it even had a form that the administration truly understood) never came to full fruition, eventually unraveling through incompetence, bad luck, and perhaps even a little providence. And yet, even now, there is great reluctance on the part of our elected representatives to ask the most basic of questions -What Happened? Why were we manipulated? To what ends?

That's why I say to the GOP, as usual too clever by half, go ahead and investigate Nancy Pelosi. You are absolutely right in your assertion that if she believed a crime was being committed and didn't speak out, she may well be culpable, but she surely had a reason for not speaking, even though it may have been a petty one. Let's find what that reason was. And then be prepared to take the stand yourselves if you have sufficient tenure, and pass the word on to the Bush crew, the CIA, the FBI, whoever, and let's take this wherever it might lead. Because there's no doubt that torture is a worthy topic of investigation, but it's only one part of something much bigger, and we're like the blind men feeling the elephant, something we haven't yet figured out what to call, much less how to define.

1 comment:

  1. Pelosi is a naive ingenue like Penelope Pitstop which makes Dick Cheney Dick Dastardly.