The administration of George W. Bush.
Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, former U.S. vice president and president, respectively, and former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Will the banality of their administration's evil ever culminate in prosecutions?
"The United States does not torture," George W. Bush lied to the American people. On orders for senior Bush administration officials, America tortured Afghan and Iraq war detainees at Guantanamo Bay; in Baghdad and Kabul prisons; at CIA "dark sites" in Germany, Thailand and other unsuspecting host nationsp; and "renditioned," or outsourced, torture to suspect allies like Egypt and outright adversaries like Syria. There has been no conclusive proof that this heinous activity protected the homeland, that torture yielded useful infomration that had not already been provided by detainees using conventional interrogation methods common to the local police station house. There is proof detainees lied during torture to stop the pain.
In acting as it did, Bush eclipsed the combined Teapot Dome, Watergate and Lewinsky scandals by an immeasurable degree. The 43rd president subverted the U.S. Constitution and the body of American law based upon it. His White House lawyers put in abeyance longstanding directives of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions - protections initially sponsored by the United States. The Bush regime made a hash of the strict torture prohibitions in the field manuals of all four branches of the U.S. military.
It did so in frenzied pursuit of a non-existent link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, to justify a war of choice against Iraq, a sovereign nation posing no immediate threat to the U.S. or its neighbours. In doing so, the Bush administration ignored the growing real threat to America by a resurgent Al Qaeda in Afghanistan that Canada, the Obama administration and other NATO members are struggling fitfully with today. And it dissuaded allies from sharing vitally useful information with a nation known within the global intelligence and foreign-policy communities as having zealously embraced torture. Lest they dirty their hands and lose favour with their own people, potentially helpful allies opted to wait out the Bush administration until its replacement by one with which they could more safely cooperate. Many years of essential detective work were thus lost.
One thing about the Americans. They have a free press. Following the recently released memoes of the Bush justice department encouraging the use of torture and detailing the methods to be employed, you can read widely in America angry, sorrowful responses to one of the saddest chapters of a great nation. We found Frank Rich's exposition in today's New York Times especially compelling:
Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to "protect" us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us a from "another 9/11," torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had noting to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House's illegality...
President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won't vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don't need another commission. We don't need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation's commitment to the rule of law.
Source for Abu Ghraib photo montage: Daily Telegraph (U.K.)