About that torture stuff

A few people are talking about this article that points out the White House explicitly approved torture. It basically proves what most people have suspected all along--that Bush was practically fapping himself to ecstasy over the idea of the CIA beating up and waterboarding some people suspected of being "evildoers." And I can't say I'm all that excited about this article--outrage fatigue sets in after a while and it's not like Bush is going to drop lower in my estimation.

But this does bother me.

The repeated requests for a paper trail reflected growing worries within the CIA that the administration might later distance itself from key decisions about the handling of captured al-Qaeda leaders, former intelligence officials said. The concerns grew more pronounced after the revelations of mistreatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and further still as tensions grew between the administration and its intelligence advisers over the conduct of the Iraq war.

"It came up in the daily meetings. We heard it from our field officers," said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the events. "We were already worried that we" were going to be blamed.

A. John Radsan, a lawyer in the CIA general counsel's office until 2004, remembered the discussions but did not personally view the memos the agency received in response to its concerns. "The question was whether we had enough 'top cover,' " Radsan said.
I know that ass-covering is the primary concern in any bureaucracy; politicians are generally risk-averse, and always want someone they can pin the blame on if something goes badly, especially if there might be prison time involved. But what does it say about us as a nation that the people entrusted with gathering intelligence are more worried about that than their own sense of right and wrong? Torture ought to be something that outrages the human spirit. Permission ought to be the last thing anyone faced with the order to torture is worried about. I'm not even a religious person and I would be fearful for my soul if I were involved in something like that, but give these guys a note from the President and it's suddenly okay because they can't go to jail for it?

Some things have to be bigger than whether or not you have a note from the teacher saying it's okay to break the rules. Torture is one of them. We have been shamed as a nation by these actions, and the people who are responsible for that are going to get away with it. George W. Bush will get to retire to Crawford where he will hopefully drink himself into a stupor. Dick Cheney will go back to sucking the blood out of live babies. Condoleeza Rice will become the heir-apparent to Henry Kissinger, a monster who remains in demand for advice even though her official actions have largely been disastrous. And so on. And so on. None of them will make official recompense for the evil they have done, because the world isn't fair. And it sucks.

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