Both President Obama and the Republicans are playing misdirection games on the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, using pseudo-issues to keep our minds off what should be our central concerns as we contemplate the capture and then illegal assassination of the symbol of anti-American terrorism.
Obama was happy to get into a spat with Mitt Romney about who as president would or would not have authorized the raid that captured bin Laden. That way no one was debating the real issue: instead of killing bin Laden, should we instead have upheld the due process principle of our rule of law and transported him back to the United States for a trial? No one in the main stream media is even whispering that question.
The Republican’s misdirection involves torture. Once again, Republican torchbearers are making the incredibly inaccurate statement that enhanced interrogation techniques—their polite word for torture—produced information that led to identifying bin Laden’s location in Pakistan. In this case, the former director of the CIA’s clandestine service, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., revived the lie in a new memoir, Hard Measures, and with an appearance Sunday night on the CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Once again, those in the know like Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, are correcting the lie by reminding us that all information leading to the identification of bin Laden’s location came from traditional, legal and non-painful interrogation.
But what do the Republicans care if they are called on the lie? They still will have moved the country away from asking and answering the questions, “Is torture legal?” and “Is torture right?” Instead, we are focused on the question of efficacy: “Does torture work?” Asking if it works implies that its use is accepted, at least conditionally.
The torture misdirection helps the Democrats as much as it helps the Republicans. The Obama Administration doesn’t mind if we pose the torture question in a way that appears to give proponents at least a chance of winning, as long as we’re talking about torture. That way we won’t be talking about the continued existence of Guantanamo and its dozens of prisoners mired in a legal no-man’s land. That way we won’t talk about assassinating U.S. citizens without the benefit of due process. That way we won’t talk about increased raiding of state-legal medical marijuana operations or signing the bill to reauthorize the indefinite detention in military custody of US citizens. I could drone on about civil rights abuses by the centrist Obama Administration….Speaking of drones…
We should not be talking about torture at all, except to pronounce prison sentences on Bush II, Cheney, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Addington and the other architects of the illegal American torture gulag. We should have moved on to a wholesale reevaluation of the increased security measures we implemented after the 9/11 attack that have led to a reduction in civil rights of our citizens and others.
But then again, we should not be talking about the legality of abortion almost 40 years after Roe v. Wade.
And we shouldn’t still be debating the merits of offering birth control to women as part of healthcare insurance.
We should not be talking about if the theory of evolution is valid.
We should not be talking about if the earth is rapidly and dangerously warming, another piece of misdirection that the Times continues to support with its vetting today of the already disproven theory that clouds will absorb excess warmth and prevent us from enduring the perils of climate change.
And it’s truly amazing that we’re still talking about soldiers in Afghanistan.
And how could we possibly still be debating poll taxes, which in my mind is anything for which you have to pay to be able to exercise your right to vote.
So maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising to me that someone in the world is still defending the use of torture. The persistence of false ideas takes our attention away from what must be done: for example, to reinstate tradition civil rights for everyone; educate our children in understanding and using the scientific method; and reduce human generation of carbon-based emissions.