We lost our collective minds

When the histories of this period are written, our descendants will wonder just what the hell we were thinking (assuming we don't kill ourselves off first). This article is long on assumptions and short on exact detail, but the implications it raises are frightening enough on their own.

For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

It would be nice to know exactly who the bloodthirstier of the bunch were--even if it is a person for whom I proudly cast a vote in 2004. It should also be noted that, except for Jane Harman, who says she filed a letter of protest with the CIA about the techniques in 2003, the others involved say either that they weren't briefed, or that they don't remember, and the article is scant on detail about who said what in a very pox-on-both-your-houses sort of way.

And you know something? There's enough guilt here to go around and cover everyone. If Pelosi saw waterboarding and didn't object to it strenuously, then shame on her. The distance between saying nothing in the face of that action and saying "make sure you fuck them up as bad as you need to" is minimal compared to the distance between objecting on the basis of human rights and saying nothing at all. If you're at the point where you're justifying torture, even to yourself, as a necessity for the greater good, you're a long trek from where you ought to be as a member of government.

And so are we as citizens, if we're not appalled by the conduct of our government. We can't hide behind them anymore. Our cries of "it's not us, it's the people in charge" start to ring hollow after a while.

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