This is Part One of A Three-Part Series:
I have been silent for the past few weeks because of some personal issues, but also because I have become so inundated with all the information that has been coming out about the practices of torture (let’s call it that, shall we…because that’s what it is) by the United States of America. The so called “war on terror” now has a new name (whatever it is they call it this week), and “enhanced interrogation techniques” were nothing more than a euphemism for TORTURE, plain and simple. I cannot believe that this country holds people without due process, without being charged, tried in courts under great secrecy, and currently offshore in Guantanamo. I cannot believe that this nation has been reduced to compromise on its core values and principles. I cannot believe that we were lied into a war, willingly supported by a corrupt and naive Congress without much protest by the populace. I cannot believe that we actually tortured individuals for the purpose of creating information which would support the logic of going to war, just after the bombs had started falling on Baghdad. I cannot believe that it has all come to this…and I was there at the very beginning of our long fall from grace as a people.
I watched 3,000 souls lose their lives on September 11, 2001. I had a front seat view, and it wasn’t in the living room in front of the TV with a bottle (although much of that would happen later on). I was a survivor of the World Trade Center attack, and I always knew from that day onward that my life would never be the same. Which came first, I cannot say…my own insanity or that of this country; but over the next eight years as I unraveled so did my beloved nation, a country that I love so very much. When I choose to wave a flag, it is because I WANT to, because I feel pride when I do…because I know what every one of those stars and stripes represent. I know what went into ensuring that that flag waves proudly in the sky for well over 200 years. I know the warriors who keep us safe, and the ones who have done their service to this country and are treated like dust upon their return from their tours of duty. When I was growing up, I saw it from common people who disagreed with the Vietnam War; now, it comes from a detached Veterans Administration while those proud men and women have the full support of their fellow citizens.
I saw Police, Fire, and Rescue departments rush into damaged buildings with no regard for their own safety, only that of others…never to return to their comrades or loved ones. I saw their surviving brothers and sisters try and dig out their remains and the remains of others for weeks and months afterwards as the fires still melted steel six stories below ground. The smell of that day still hung in the air for months; and I could not get that scent out of my nostrils even when I got home from work; a job and a career which became even more personally insignificant to me as time wore on. I saw people who were also heroes in the months after 9/11 go to their jobs in the area around the WTC site keep this nation’s economy moving every day; the truly unsung heroes of 9/11. What’s more, I saw an opportunity in the days and weeks after the attack for this country to REALLY come together as Americans and for us to put to good use the goodwill shown by the rest of the world toward us to find those responsible for the attacks. To come together and fight the extremists (political, religious or otherwise) who perpetrate terror and whose target is the freedom of every living being on this planet. Make no mistake, I may be a damned left wing Liberal, but I bleed red, white, and blue…and I am also a human being. Also understand that I held hatred and a thirst for revenge in my heart for a few years after that horrific day; eventually I began to seek justice rather than resort to the darker side of my humanity. Unfortunately, many in our Government and our fellow countrymen did not.
So we began to first isolate ourselves from within; you either believed in the ideology of the Neoconservatives who had begun to exert their control over the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government did, or you were an enemy of the state. You were either “for us or against us” as the mantra said. We then began to apply that to the rest of the world, and we then started two wars; only one of which I feel was justified. The other was a complete fabrication and an aberration. We had unfinished business with Iraq according to some, and a personal vendetta given form in the personage of the President of the United States, who was only more than willing to carry that out. So a case was made for a war that was ostensibly to find weapons of mass destruction, which then became a war to find Saddam Hussein and remove him from power, which then became a war for Iraqi freedom. The strange morph of purpose was because we had no justification for our original intent, and we then began to alter intelligence to fit the designs of the Neocons. Now we find out that people who were giving us valuable information, information that was later proved to be true and aided the United States; were tortured to get them to confess to a conspiracy involving Iraq and Al Quaida that would give us justification for the war. And we began to lose our way in Afghanistan as well, executing a poorly devised strategy that cost our soldiers their lives and allowed Osama Bin Laden to go free into the mountains to be a moving target impossible to find in subsequent years. More importantly, we began to lose our way at home.
The Justice Department doled out anything but; it’s lawyers conspiring to allow torture of prisoners, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. These same lawyers passed judgments on what the President could do during war time and began to construct a framework of a virtual dictatorship that could be put into place at a moment’s notice. Prisoners were held without charges or afforded due process and shipped to Gitmo, where they were tortured again and again to no avail by people following their orders. The true Americans were the ones who risked their careers, their commissions, their lives by having the guts to say one simple word…”NO”; not just at Gitmo, but in other locations all over the globe where we had secreted some of these people. Are they Terrorists? Well, almost all of them are, but a few were declared terrorists because of varying circumstances where the NEW definition of what a “terrorist” was, was applied. If they weren’t terrorists when they went in, they certainly were when they were released; the Bush Administration certainly assured that.
For the past eight (almost nine) years, we as a people have started down a long pathway toward Darkness; one that we can still pull away from because there is still time to do so. It begins not with any level of Government, except that of the most basic level: the level of you and I as citizens. First and foremost, we must be AWARE of what is happening. Just because we changed Administrations, does not mean that different means of furthering our downfall as a people cannot exist. Despite the fact that I truly like most of what President Obama has done in office, I take issue with the fact that he is reluctant to prosecute those individuals in the Bush Administration who manipulated the law and circumvented the Constitution in order to wage a covert war based on principles that were decidedly un-American. He (and WE) have a responsibility to prosecute under the Geneva Conventions; this is not an optional clause, it is MANDATORY. I also take issue with the fact that the President has still maintained a Military Tribunal system to prosecute some of these prisoners. Each person in our custody is entitled to due process, no matter how horrific the crime; that is GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION. I do however, agree with his decision to withhold further photo evidence of torture conducted by the United States. It is distasteful to even have to write those words, but the fact remains that further release of damning photos to the rest of the world could only incite further Terrorist recruitment and endanger our Military around the world. I think the atrocities that were already shown were more than enough to damn us in the eyes of History and the world. Those photos should be made available for prosecutions, however; and if necessary kept as guarded evidence during any future trials.
The fact of the matter is that this President was left a MESS (to put it mildly) by the previous Administration. As more and more is revealed daily, it becomes increasingly obvious that the man most responsible for this quagmire of conscience is one Richard Bruce Cheney, former Vice President of The United States of America.
To be continued…
“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. ” – John Adams