We need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission...

Not that I think we will get one. That sort of thing doesn't happen in America. History isn't given much traction in these parts, better to ignore and forget it.  So, the torturers and their enablers in the Bush administration will simply never face justice.

One of the deep failings of the Obama years will always be allowing torture with impunity to define the United States in the 21st century. This just makes it all but certain that we will revisit these techniques in future years following some other traumatic event. Cheney still today doesn't admit to any misgivings. How can this be considered a legitimate political position at this point?

The whitewash for torture joins hands with the whitewash for bank and Wall Street criminality, as the House now guts the milquetoast Dodd-Frank reforms of the post-financial crisis. That is kind of astonishing to me. The tortured were extreme outliers in the American mind, and so easy to ignore by the public. It is pretty hard to ignore the damage wrought by financial chicanery. But apparently the time has already come to get back to the status quo.

The torture report confirmed the existence of high crimes at the highest level of the federal state.  This piece by Deborah Pearlstein at Opinio Juris points out another terrible legacy of that era: the core incompetence of leadership at the highest levels.

"Having spent years of my life as a human rights lawyer working on precisely these issues – preparing reports on secret detentions, and indeed detainee deaths in U.S. custody, among other things – and having spent plenty of days in shock and horror at what we learned then, I had come to feel almost inured to new revelations. Power drill to the head? We’d seen that earlier. Detainee died of hypothermia having been left mostly naked in his dungeon-like cell? Knew that too. But beyond the important new detail about our treatment of detainees the report offers, it is for me the facts the report reveals about the level of fundamental professional incompetence giving rise to this program, and the extent of the CIA’s efforts to keep information about it from other parts of our own government – including the director of the FBI and two U.S. secretaries of state – that leaves me newly in awe. Among the many telling (and I believe unrefuted) passages of incompetence (p. 11 of the Report): “Numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems – including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others- that should have called into question their suitability to participate” in the interrogation and detention program. More, the private psychologists CIA hired to develop, operate and assess its interrogation program lacked any “experience as an interrogator, knowledge of Al Qaida, background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.” Even as I continue to work through the text of the report, it is clear that it should be required reading for all Americans."


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