Tuesday, November 7, 2017

From the Archives, 2008: Normalizing the Unthinkable

Editors' Note: There's a lot of pixels being excited these days by the shocking outrages of the U Bum Administration and the danger of normalizing the criminality, brutality, and subversion of his gang, including his mouth-breathing offspring.  Some of the commentary comes from those who have loyally questioned the morality of prior Republican armies of destruction, but a surprising amount emanates from those whose sensibilities were once less easily offended.  Let's climb into the Waybac and see how some of these worthies normalized the apparently petty peccadilloes of George W. Bush and his co-conspirators.

By Robert Jackson
Contributing Editor, International Law

The increasing tempo of revelations about the grotesque and indefensible tortures employed by the Bush Administration has been met by an unyielding and relentless effort by Republican apologists and neocons to justify them as perfectly reasonable responses to an apparently endless and boundary-less “War on Terrorism.”

Kristol: 'Perfectly normal'
The Republican chattering class seems to have no difficulty accepting as normal and appropriate 183 acts of waterboarding against a terror suspect designed to elicit a false statement about the nonexistent ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the torture and degradation perpetrated against random detainees at abu Ghraib prison, or the brutality, up to and including anal rape, practiced by the CIA against detainees at Baghram in Afghanistan.

The entire campaign of illegal torture and brutality, summed up brilliantly in Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side, has been regarded by all civilized Americans as abhorrent.  Here's one typical example, from History Professor Alan Brinkley (from his review of Mayer's book): “it would be difficult to find any precedent in American history for the scale, brutality and illegality of the torture and degradation inflicted on detainees over the last six years; and that it would be even harder to imagine a set of policies more likely to increase the dangers facing the United States and the world.”

But Republicans don't seem to have a problem with any of it.  For example, Republican spin doctor and concoctor of lies intended to justify the disastrous War in Iraq Billy Kristol, far from condemning the extra-legal torture practiced by the CIA and others, has called upon W. to pardon the torturers, apparently concluding that behavior that sufficed to justify the execution of Japanese generals as war criminals is now just another normal part of war, at least when the torturers are American.

Frum: 'Nothing to see here people'
He specifically urged the President to normalize waterboarding: “The CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, . .  should not have to worry about legal bills or public defamation. In fact, Bush might want to give some of these public servants the Medal of Freedom at the same time he bestows the honor on Generals Petraeus and Odierno. They deserve it.”

Former Bush Administration coatholder David Frum similarly regards torture and brutality as nothing to get upset about.  In his world famous blog, the Frum Forum, he normalized the efforts of fellow mouthpiece John Yoo to define away torture by disregarding the definitions built into American and international law for at least two generations.  Frum said that Yoo's frivolous arguments were part of a good-faith dispute and demonized those who corrected Yoo's perversion of law as having “the incidental effect of recategorizing some of the most brutal enemies the United States has ever faced as pitiful victims.”  In other words, Frum thought that the degradation and torture defended by Yoo were a perfectly normal part of American government and jurisprudence.

Likud Party spokesgal Jennifer Rubin similarly sees nothing abnormal about throwing away the rules governing civilized warfare that predate the Nuremberg Trials.  Referring to torture by Bush's preferred euphemism, “enhanced interrogation,” she normalizes it by repeating the false claim that it helped in the fight against bin Laden.

Rubin: 'OK by me'
As for former impeachment hellhound and faithful family man Joe Scarborough, he has never used his morning gabfest to express outrage over the protracted torture campaign and its attempted cover-up.  Instead, he has consistently sought to normalize such vile conduct by claiming falsely that it is an effective and long-standing part of intelligence-gathering.

Further, his supposedly heavyweight panelists seem unable or unwilling to point out the truth.  For example, on Tuesday's show, Washington gasbag and Ladies' Man Mark Halperin joked that he'd be willing to be locked up and chained to the production intern with the “great yabbos.”  He was followed by creative writer Mike Barnicle, who told a story about how Whitey Bulger was caught because a Boston cop named Jimmy Burke beat the crap out of somebody in 1946.

Scarborough: 'As American as apple pie'
The danger of course is that conduct such as freezing detainees to death, stripping them and forcing them into a pigpile, and even raping detainees with enemas containing food becomes normal if those who should know better fail to speak out.  If we cannot even condemn obvious outrages like torture, what further attacks on our democracy and the rule of law can we expect?  Collusion with Russian efforts to subvert our elections?  Presidents subject to blackmail due to their escapades and financial dealings with Kremlin-backed gangsters?  An entire government devoted to protecting the personal wealth of a demented President?

Laugh if you like at these admittedly ludicrous examples, but if we let our government get away with torture, what else will we end up normalizing?

Also on Scarborough's malarkey festival with Halperin and Barnicle was busto casino operator Donald J. Trump, who was willing to disagree with the prevailing sentiments on at least one issue:  “Which one, Mark?  The one in the control room?  Hell, my daughter has a better rack than that.”

No comments:

Post a Comment