My slightly unhealthy obsession with Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) is no secret amongst the Dogoods. I find his stance on capital punishment, the automatic pay increases of the House and Senate, among others issues, and his role as the sole dissenter against the so-called Patriot Act, admirable. He seems to exude good, Mid-Western, common sense, a virtue not so common any more.
Apart from Jon Stewart’s humorous take on the Right’s outraged whitewashing of the torture memos, Feingold has been a lone voice crying out in the wilderness. Governments who torture, are, by their very nature, illegitimate, so it’s no surprise that Bush cheerleader Peggy Noonan wanted to cover her ears and say “lalalalalala”:
“Some things in life need to be mysterious,” Noonan said on Sunday about the release of the torture memos. “Sometimes you need to just keep walking. … It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.”
Genocide! Torture! Slavery! Rape! Lalalalalalala!
Concerning Peggy Noonan’s frankly cowardly take on the torture memos, Feingold had this to say:
“If you want to see just how outrageous this is, I refer you to the remarks made by Peggy Noonan this Sunday,” he said, referring to the longtime conservative columnist’s appearance on ABC’s This Week. “I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the effect of: ‘well sometimes you just have to move on.’”
“Part of what troubles me are the lawyers — we should see their law school degrees — who consciously wrote these memos justifying and explaining full well those outrageous arguments,” the Wisconsin Democrat said on Tuesday in reference to the Bush-era torture memos released last week. “I cannot join the president, or his spokesman, or [chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, who said we aren’t going [to prosecute these people]. I can’t. I just disagree with them.”
Personally, I have the sneaking suspicion President Obama is playing both sides against the middle, by reassuring the CIA torturers and rendition participants that they will not be prosecuted, while simultaneously allowing the people to dissent. If the demand is strong enough, he will be, in effect, forced to bow to the wishes of the people and prosecute.
I hope President Obama begins this Augean cleansing with John Yoo. After all, Yoo doesn’t consider what the CIA and its thumb-screwers did to be torture, ergo, it’s not illegal. To the legislator go the spoils! The Republican, or reptilian, part of my brain wants to make the punishment fit the crime, and to feed him into the CIA’s black site torture machine, or cast him into an oubliette, but I am not a Republican and even the suffering of one as odious and unconscionable as Yoo would weigh heavily on me. Better then, to make straight the way to his prosecution in open court, and a judgement of his peers, a privilege never allowed to his victims, be they guilty or innocent. For torture isn’t about information, no matter how often Yoo claims it to be, torture is about breaking and destroying a human being in vengeance, and to make them collude in the lies of our making. After waterboarding Khalid Sheik Mohammed an incredible 186 times in a month, KSM gave them all the lies they wanted to hear, that there were terrorist plots and sleeper cells in every mosque, on every street corner,in every airport and school, just to make the agony stop. And how can one tell the truth from the lies? It’s not possible, but that was never the point. Vengeance and degradation were the point. Change, to me, starts with Yoo.
“Long is the way and hard, that out of hell leads up to light;” - John Milton (Paradise Lost)