Friday, August 17, 2018

John Brennan and the slow torture of our Republic

By Buck Turgidson, U.S. Army (ret.) 
National Security Correspondent

By our reckoning, the 72nd Article of Impeachment against President U Bum is based upon his abuse of power and obstruction of justice in yanking the security clearance of retired CIA Director John Brennan because Brennan had dared to criticize the Treason-Faced Grifter.

Commentators, notably excluding any member of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, have rightly savaged this petty tyranny as violating a fundamental norm of American constitutional order: a President can't exercise his powers solely or even predominantly to punish his critics and intimidate others into remaining silent.

Where does it say that in the United States Code?  Well, it doesn't; it's one of the many norms inherent and formerly embedded in political culture that ensure the perpetuation of a free society and the rule of law.

Are there any other examples anyone can cite of such a norm?  How about you, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California? Any thoughts?

Whoa, secret torture of helpless detainees, regardless of the, um, tortured legal justifications for it (e.g, it's not torture if the victim is not killed or permanently crippled), sure sounds like a violation of one of those norms.

Who could possibly disagree with such an obvious statement of fundamental principles of decency and due process?  Wait for it: 
Yet what the report makes clear is precisely that national security was not served by the torture and abuse, that very little useful information was derived from it. The head of the C.I.A., John O. Brennan, and other apologists for the agency are now arguing that the interrogators were “patriots,” and that the problem consisted of some officers who went “outside the bounds” of the rules.
John Brennan: “OK by me”
Yep, that same John Brennan who today is being rightly lionized for standing up to blatantly unfair mistreatment at the hands of a wannabe tyrant with nothing but contempt for civilized norms was only yesterday working tirelessly to defend CIA torturers on the grounds that they were only following orders from wannabe tyrants:
Unlike President Obama, Mr. Brennan pointedly refused to say that the methods — including waterboarding, shackling prisoners in painful positions, and locking them in coffin-like boxes — amounted to torture. 
Not only that; he made damn sure that the evidence against those sadists and butchers would never see the light of day, according to former Senator Mark Udall:

Udall accused Brennan of a “failure of leadership,” but went further, suggesting that the CIA chief is actively engaged in a cover up; that he has prevented the release of an internal classified report launched by his predecessor which Udall said corroborates much for the Senate’s findings on torture. Former CIA director Leon Panetta formed an internal review process in 2009 which resulted in the report that Udall called a “smoking gun.” Udall said that review identifies errors by the agency and differs sharply from a response Brennan provided to the committee last year in which he defended the torture program and denied wrongdoing by the agency. As such, Udall said, the Panetta Review offers evidence that Brennan and his allies may have knowingly provided inaccurate information to the committee, which he called “a serious offense.”
“The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review, and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the Committee Study and the Panetta Review leads to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” Udall said. “In other words, the CIA is lying.” (emphasis added)
John Brennan: “Just patriots doing their job.”
To those eager to canonize Brennan because of his recent criticism of the Grifter-in-Chief, exhuming the broken bodies of various unlucky detainees may seem like whataboutism: an effort to change the subject to an unrelated topic.

But is it unrelated?  The Republican culture of destroying democratic norms didn't begin in 2017; it goes back at least to the glory days of Bill Buckley's man crush, Joe McCarthy. Sometimes the American system manages to rid itself of these evildoers, like McCarthy or Nixon.

And sometimes it doesn't.  Bush Republicans stole the 2000 election by a vote of 5 to 4 and never paid a price for it.  Indeed the recount rioters now pose as concerned citizens, right, Nicolle?  Then those same Republicans lied us into needless war and engaged in grotesque tortures and war crimes, and again never paid the price, unless you count being relegated to the daytime lineup.

When outrages are buried and unpunished on spurious grounds like national security, the tears in the fabric of the Republic become normalized and accepted, both weakening America and providing a model for those who would rip new holes in it, like President U Bum.  When such subversion is overtly supported by majorities in the House and Senate, the web of norms that supports our democracy become ever more tenuous, until, as is the case today, it appears ready to collapse into threads.

Those who now properly sound the alarm about obstructing justice and accountability when a critic like John Brennan is mugged by a corrupt President might be asked where they were when justice was waterboarded at CIA black sites, and accountability frustrated by the man who now claims it as his birthright.

It turns out that the edifice of our Republic is like a Jenga tower.  Every time a piece is removed, whether by shutting down a recount in Florida in 2000 or covering up CIA torture and war crimes since their commission in 2002, the point at which it comes crashing down draws closer.

And then it's game over.

No comments:

Post a Comment