Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Getting Orwellian on three issues.
The first issue: Despite continued administration protestations that detainees under American control are not tortured, the negotiations between Senator John McCain and the white house over the inclusion of anti-torture language in the defense appropriations bill have reached an impasse.
The administration fears the McCain provisions could limit the president's ability to stop a terrorist attack, and it has been seeking to add language that would offer some protection from prosecution for interrogators accused of violating the provision.The white house is fighting the McCain legislation tooth and nail behind the scenes while publicly proclaiming every time they have the chance that we do not torture. There is a basic disconnect here. Either we do not torture in which case the Senator's legislation is not objectionable, or we do torture. The only way this administration can claim it does not torture is to redefine the practice in such a way that only the most severe treatment can be called torture. Senator McCain would define the techniques that could be used to not include practices this administration wishes to not be defined as torture.
But the senator has rejected that. Instead, he has offered to include language similar to that in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It would allow accused civilian interrogators - like military interrogators - to defend themselves if a reasonable person could have found they were following a lawful order about treatment of detainees.
Next issue: President Bush has has signed an order streamlining the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests:
"It's positive in the sense that it puts the president on record as recognizing that there is a problem with the FOIA process," said Mark Tapscott, director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.In other words, the streamlining of the process simply means that requests will be rejected faster, not that more information will be made available.
"But the negative is that the focus is on process rather than getting at the root problems - too broad exemptions and complete lack of any penalties either for individuals or agencies that violate FOIA," Tapscott said.
Final issue: The president today claimed responsibility for the Iraq war while admitting that it was based upon faulty intelligence:
"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong," Bush said. "As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq."On first blush this may seem to be some sort of mea culpa. I mean it is perfectly obvious the president was responsible for this war before he came out and owned it today right? It also has been perfectly obvious for quite some time that the intelligence misused by the administration to justify the war was bad. So what point is there for the president to be revealing these truths at this point of the game? Well the point of this presidential admission, as well as the real point behind my raising the three issues in the same post is this!
The response of the administration in all three cases means precisely nothing, while appearing to be an actual attempt to address the negative consequences of their governance. This is the way this crew works. They publicly appear to be working to address the obviously wrong headed way they govern, but really nothing constructive happens. Publicly proclaiming we do not torture does not mean we do not and they can not fool John McCain with all their hot air. Streamlining the process by which this administration has fundamentally restricted release of information under the FOIA process does not mean the process is not restricted. And the president saying he is responsible for the decision to go to war, based on bad intelligence means absolutely nothing if there are no consequences for that decision. Furthermore this is no mea culpa on behalf of the mistaken president. He clearly states that given the choice, he would do it again!
I could list ten more issues where in this administration practices the same deceptive governing style. I do not wish to turn this post into a book however so I'll let it rest with this. The administration of George Bush would make Orwell proud of his ability to predict the future in his famous work of fiction.
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