Thursday, January 31, 2008

US Ends Torture! Replaces it With "EIT Units"

Glenn Greenwald over at Salon is posting today about the American Attorney General Michael Mukasey's recent testimony before Congress.

Greenwald, inter alia, is upset because even extraordinary testimony from Mukasey about torture is now "ordinary".

Mukasey explicitly embraces the most extreme theories of presidential omnipotence and lawlessness and displays as much Cheney-ite contempt for the notion of Congressional oversight as the Vice President himself. He repeatedly endorsed patently illegal behavior -- including torture...

He went on to say..
Mukasey repeatedly insisted that even his most lawlessness-endorsing views are within our political mainstream, and he's right about that. It's now been seven years that our country has functioned under the radical executive power theories of the Bush administration, which include the right of the President to break the law. Congress long ago decided it would do nothing about any of it, would acquiesce to it, and thus -- as was predictable and predicted -- it has all become normalized.

No more "torture"

It's so simple I wish I had thought of it, all that is required to end torture in America is to change the name! It's not "torture", that has such a negative, even authentic ring to it, no let's call it "enhanced interrogation techniques", no wait, let's reduce it to some acronym with no unpleasant connotations. EIT, yeah that's it, EIT! We had to use a little EIT on the detainee, then we had some tea.

The Senators and Mukasey spoke all day long about torture with such dispassion that one would have thought it was nothing more than the latest bureaucratic HUD program. They don't even use the euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques" any more. That phrase has been so normalized that they now all know and use an abbreviation for it -- "EIT."

Glenn has long been an eloquent, careful and relentless opponent of the regime occupying the White House. Nevertheless he has always held out the hope and belief that America was still a functioning democracy. Just last December he blogged approvingly and hopefully about Chris Dodd's attempt to block the new FISA bill that is before Congress, a bill that will legalize warrantless surveillance, and provides retroactive immunity for the telecom companies that aided and abetted warrantless, and therefore illegal spying on Americans. Unfortunately for that sense of optimism, the democratic leadership is now actively blocking Dodd, and it looks like the authoritarian FISA bill will now pass - just the way Bush wants it. So where is the "democracy"?

Glenn goes on to say,
Congress does that (enables illegal activities) because we live in a system of lawlessness -- we have decided that the President has the power to break the law without consequences...

I am with Glenn up to this point, but then he loses me in an outbreak of optimism...

The Bush administration will be gone in 11 months, but -- in the absence of some meaningful accountability -- all of this will remain.

"Probably" Bush's last State of the Union Speech

Even that notorious organ of the state, The Washington Post, has said recently that this is "probably" Bush's last State of the Union speech. Probably? Probably?

It is sad to see someone like Glenn Greenwald, an American in the best sense, essentially admit that democracy in America has ended, and even sadder to have to agree with him. Sad... and terrifying.

Here is my comment at Salon on Glenn's latest blog.

Glenn Deklares a Diktatorship

Glenn has been building up to this for some time, as he said in his book, "How Would a Patriot Act?", two years ago, "we are a country in which the president has said -- expressly and repeatedly -- that he has the power to act without restraints, including the power to break the law."

More recently he has used the term "oligarchy" not once but many times. Over the last few months and years he has meticulously detailed the abuses of, not a President - but a dictator.

Glenn's latest post amounts to a declaration that democracy in America has ended, and that it has ended in the sad spectacle of the craven, obsequious, and beaten members of the Congressional Boyar Duma reduced to begging the Tzar's top secret policeman for favors.

Up to this point I agree with everything that Glenn said.

He finishes however, by asserting that "Bush will be gone in 11 months", and wistfully hopes that the next boss will be better than the last boss. "It remains to be seen..." if the next putatively "democratic" President will prosecute any of this sanguinary regime's many crimes. This is where he loses me.

If Bush and his whole grisly gang are in fact planning on packing up and going on the lecture circuit, how to explain their apparent lack of any fear that those new and extraordinary powers of the "unitary executive" will not be used against them? After all the executive can now declare anyone an "enemy combatant", spirit them away to a secret prison and then administer all the EIT units that they care to apply.

But they are not worried. They keep committing crimes. The attack on Iran is still on, despite the latest NIE. They have no fear, no worries. Bush is a textbook extreme sociopath, and for people like him, consequences are an abstraction at best. But what about the rest of them - surely they must be worried? If they are, I see no evidence of that whatsoever.

Look for another attack on America. Wait for the deliberately unspecified "catastrophic emergency" that will trigger NSPD 51 - which gives Bush out-of-the-drawer dictatorial powers, with "legitimate" primacy over the Congress, the Senate and what's left of the Supreme court.

Glenn is right that Bush is now a functional dictator (a charge that has never before been seriously or credibly leveled at a sitting POTUS). Where he goes wrong is his sadly naive, but admirable, belief that there will be an election and perhaps... prosecutions.

There will be no election and if there is, it will be a Diebold affair. Either way it's more war, and no "freedoms", not in America anyway.

The only question is what are you going to do about it? There is only one answer, there must be impeachment, and it must be now.

Tragically, the quisling Pelosi, with the assistance of her erstwhile colleague and fellow sonderkommando, Reid, continue to keep impeachment "off the table".

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