Reflecting on America’s sins, my (now week-old, sorry!) piece at Lobe Log

This went up while I was away, and so great was my desire to actually be on vacation that I didn’t even think to link to it here. It’s a piece on the ongoing slap fight between the CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence over whether and how to release the committee’s report on our “enhanced interrogation” program. My view is, release it all and punish those responsible, but since we’ve already determined not to actually hold anyone responsible for what assuredly amounts to a systematic program of war crimes, at least release the damn report so the public can understand what happened. If nothing else, our failure to acknowledge what we did makes us look like hypocrites when we demand that other countries do what we won’t do:

While it may behoove a particular administration to avoid the appearance of vindictiveness toward previous administrations, the decision not to investigate something as pernicious as the officially sanctioned torture of prisoners sacrifices the US’ credibility in the long run. It should not go unnoticed, for example, that while the US Ambassador to Kosovo is urging that nation to conduct a tribunal over the issue of organ trafficking by Kosovar Albanian militias in order to “build up its international credibility,” two branches of the US government are openly at odds over whether to even publicly acknowledge the past abuses of our “interrogation” program. It probably doesn’t go unnoticed that while the US refuses to reckon with its abuse of detainees, it is also refusing to issue a visa to Iran’s newly appointed UN Ambassador on the grounds that he was a background participant in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran (he’s now part of Iran’s “reformist” camp). If the US can’t honestly reflect on its own past, how does it have the standing to demand the same of other nations?

America takes a long time to grapple with its past errors. It took four score and seven years before we were able to finally rectify our founders’ biggest mistake, and another century and a half, and still counting, for us to fully deal with its ramifications. We didn’t finally decide that the right to vote had nothing to do with your gender until 1920. It took us until 1988 to finally make some token restitution to the Japanese-Americans who we unlawfully and unjustly imprisoned in the 1940s. We only just got around to offering a nearly-worthless “sorry” to American Indians four years ago. And plenty of errors are yet to be acknowledged, much less addressed, as plenty of Vietnam War veterans would tell you. It would be good for the country if it didn’t take a half-century or more for us to at least openly recognize the crimes that were committed, ostensibly on our behalf, by the Bush Administration.


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