Honoring Troops with the Truth

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Honoring Troops with the Truth

http://consortiumnews.com/2012/05/25/ho ... the-truth/

Honoring Troops with the Truth

May 25, 2012

America is awash in media detailing the lives of celebrities and the latest turns in political polls, but rarely addressing the painful questions about the dark side of U.S. foreign policy, a topic that Bill Moyers and Michael Winship say should be confronted this Memorial Day.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Facing the truth is hard to do, especially the truth about ourselves. So Americans have been sorely pressed to come to terms with the fact that after 9/11 our government began to torture people, and did so in defiance of domestic and international law.

Most of us haven’t come to terms with what that meant, or means today, but we must reckon with torture, the torture done in our name, allegedly for our safety. It’s no secret such cruelty occurred; it’s just the truth we’d rather not think about.

Graves at Arlington Cemetery

But Memorial Day is a good time to make the effort. Because if we really want to honor the Americans in uniform who gave their lives fighting for their country, we’ll redouble our efforts to make sure we’re worthy of their sacrifice; we’ll renew our commitment to the rule of law, for the rule of law is essential to any civilization worth dying for.

After 9/11, our government turned to torture, seeking information about the terrorists who committed the atrocity and others who might follow after them. Senior officials ordered the torture of men at military bases and detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, in secret CIA prisons set up across the globe, and in other countries – including Libya and Egypt – where abusive regimes were asked to do Washington’s dirty work.

The best known of all the prisons remains Guantanamo on the southeast coast of Cuba. For years, the United States naval base there seemed like an isolated vestige of the Cold War – defying the occasional threat from Fidel Castro to shut it down. But since 9/11, Guantanamo – Gitmo – has been a detention center, an extraterritorial island jail considered outside the jurisdiction of U.S. civilian courts and rules of evidence.

Like the notorious Room 101 of George Orwell’s 1984, the chamber that contains the thing each victim fears the most to make them confess, Guantanamo’s name has become synonymous with torture.

Nearly 800 people have been held there. George W. Bush eventually released 500 of them, sometimes after years of confinement and cruelty. Barack Obama has freed 67, but 169 remain, even though the President pledged to close the Guantanamo prison within a year of his inauguration. Now, 46 are so dangerous, our government says, they will be held indefinitely, without trial.

We almost never see the detainees. Were it not for the work of human rights organizations and the forest of lawsuits that have arisen from our actions, the prisoners would be out of sight, out of mind. Five of the Guantanamo prisoners were recently arraigned before a military commission for their role in the 9/11 attacks.

One of them is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he was the mastermind behind 9/11. He was waterboarded by interrogators 183 times. Pentagon officials predict it will be at least another year before the five go on trial.

Earlier this month, lawyers for Mohammed al-Qahtani – the so-called “20th hijacker” who didn’t make it onto the planes – filed suit in New York federal court to make public what they described as “extremely disturbing” videotapes of his interrogations.

He was charged in 2008 with war crimes and murder but the charges were dropped after the former convening authority for the Guantanamo military commissions, Susan Crawford, told journalist Bob Woodward that al-Qahtani’s treatment “met the legal definition of torture.”

He remains in indefinite detention, as does Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen alleged to have run terrorist training camps. He was waterboarded at least 83 times in a single month. Just this week a federal appeals court refused to release information on the interrogation methods the CIA used on Abu Zubaydah and other terrorist suspects.

You may also have seen the flurry of action this month around a section of the new National Defense Authorization Act that allows the military to detain indefinitely not only members of al Qaeda, the Taliban and “associated forces” but anyone who has “substantially supported” them.

A federal court struck down that provision in response to journalists and advocates who believe it could be so broadly interpreted it would violate civil liberties. Nonetheless, two days after the court’s decision, the House of Representatives reaffirmed the original provision.

The other day, eight members of the Bush Administration – including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld – were found guilty of torture and other war crimes by an unofficial tribunal meeting in Malaysia.

The story was played widely in parts of the world press, with reports that the judgment could lead the way to proceedings before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It received almost no mention here in the United States.

This summer, it’s believed that the United States Senate’s intelligence committee finally will release a report on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” that euphemistic phrase for what any reasonable person not employed by the government would call torture.

The report has been three years in the making, with investigators examining millions of classified documents. The news service Reuters says the report will conclude that techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation do not yield worthwhile intelligence information.

So here we are, into our eleventh year after 9/11, still at war in Afghanistan, still at war with terrorists, still at war with our collective conscience as we grapple with how to protect our country from attack without violating the basic values of civilization – the rule of law, striving to achieve our aims without corrupting them, and restraint in the use of power over others, especially when exercised in secret.

In future days and years, how will we come to cope with the reality of what we have done in the name of security? Many other societies do seem to try harder than we do to come to terms with horrendous behavior commissioned or condoned by a government.

Beginning in 1996, in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held hearings at which whites and blacks struggled to confront the cruelty inflicted on human beings during apartheid.

And perhaps you caught something said the other day by the president of Brazil, Dilma Roussef. During the early 1970s, she was held in prison and tortured repeatedly by the military dictators who ruled her country for nearly 25 years. The state of Rio de Janeiro has announced it will officially apologize to her.

Earlier, when she swore in members of a commission investigating the dictatorship, President Roussef said: “We are not moved by revenge, hate or a desire to rewrite history. The need to know the full truth is what moves us.”

In other words, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program, Moyers & Company, airing on public television.

"If you ignore EVERYTHING Jesus tells you; you're not REALLY a Christian..... you're just a Texan!" -bill maher

harry ashburn
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Imagine if the politics and economics of the whole planet were always completely transparent to all of us. We would all know the truth about everything and our votes & actions would NOT be based on stealthy propaganda or complete untruths.

We would clean up the world so quickly and so well.

Karolina's picture
Nov. 3, 2011 7:45 pm
Quote harry ashburn:

Honoring Troops with the Truth

http://consortiumnews.com/2012/05/25/ho ... the-truth/

Honoring Troops with the Truth

One of them is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he was the mastermind behind 9/11. He was waterboarded by interrogators 183 times. Pentagon officials predict it will be at least another year before the five go on trial.

I'm guessing if it had been your wife, sister or daughter who had flaming jet fuel dumped her as she sat in her office you would be a little less compassionate regarding this demon. Having a little water splashed on you is much better than being torched in gasoline. Ya think? This creature will never receive anything remotely close to justice for what he did. At least not in this life.

As a former Marine, I don't believe that any of my fellow Devil dogs would feel honored by this post.

rigel1's picture
Jan. 31, 2011 7:49 am

I agree with that post rigel1

Usmc Cpl 88 92

workingman's picture
Mar. 20, 2012 8:13 am

One good example for civilians to see the difference between an ex-Marine (like me) and a (self defined) former one (like poster 3) is this post, in two parts:

1) If you seriously accept (whether sought or by appointment) the responsiblity for others under your charge there can be no compromise in the execution of those responsibilities. In military endeavors this is most clearly seen in how one prepares one's self and one's teams because if the time comes that one must be lost - the momentary objective had better be worth the tradeoff of whatever that person was going to otherwise contribute over the next 40-60 years. If it was sloppiness/apathy/incompetence/etc. before or during the fact that results in a casualty - no number of medals or lies about it can undue or disguise that dishonor.

2) The smarmy, quick-turn-of-phrase political shill for the defense contractors shrilly read his line at the appointed time, disingenuously posing the query, "Who can we ask to be the last to die for a mistake?"

Right then, a sound like the largest clap of thunder ever known to man rang out and when the lights came back on it was clear that the speaker and most of his audience had wet themselves. He collected himself enough to ask, "What the hell was that? Are we under attack?!"

"Relax", came a calm reply out of the background, that was just the sound of several hundred thousand Marines answering your question (by taking a step forward to volunteer).

Rodger97321's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

GOP Tax Myth & Junk Economics

If there's one thing all Republican politicians are really good at, it's straight-up lying through their teeth about how their tax cuts for the rich are actually tax cuts for the middle-class.

Reagan did it, George W. Bush did it, and now that he's officially unveiled his own so-called tax reform plan, Donald Trump is doing it, too.

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