At what point did this country lose its way? America used to stand for law, freedom, decency and human rights. When, exactly, did we stop believing on those basic concepts?
We used to be admired around the world. Now we are despised and feared in some quarters and considered a laughingstock in others.
The Senate confirms, as Attorney General, a man who says he doesn’t know if waterboarding is torture. Doesn’t know? What alternative universe spawned this misguided sub-species?
Consider the testimony before Congress Thursday of Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a counter terrorism expert who taught at the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school. He went through the waterboarding procedure to evaluate for himself if it was torture.
In my case, the technique was so fast and professional that I didn’t know what was happening until the water entered my nose and throat, It then pushes down into the trachea and starts the process of respiratory degradation. It is an overwhelming experience that induces horror and triggers frantic survival instincts. As the event unfolded, I was fully conscious of what was happening: I was being tortured.
Yes, he was being tortured. No if ands or buts. Torture. What part of that procedure is so hard for new Attorney General Michael Mukasey to understand?
In previous wars, the United States condemned torture. Now we not only endorse it but export it, sending prisoners overseas so other countries can extract misinformation through pain and suffering.
And what does this get us? False information that is used to launch illegal wars against other nations. Recent reports confirm that an al-Qaida operative was tortured to the point where he told us what we wanted to hear about Iraq, not was actually true.
When torture doesn’t work, we simply allow ourselves to be conned. CBS recently outed “Curveball,” the so-called “top scientist” from Iraq who fed us false information about mobile chemical weapons labs in Iraq. Turns out he was a low-level worker with an active imagination.
America on the world stage is viewed as both a bully and a bumbling joke that can’t do anything right. We ignore the United Nations, violate international law and turn Iraq into the safe-haven for terrorism that we falsely claimed was there before we launched an illegal invasion.
Our President lies without a second thought and sends young men and women to their deaths without remorse. The so-called leader of the free world is a mentally-unbalanced despot with no conscience and no regard for the Constitution that once defined this nation.
In some parts of this country, children lie in a coma because this President, in a recess appointment, put a lobbyist for industry in charge of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Residents of New Orleans still live away from their homes because he appointed a flunky with a false resume from the International Arabian Horse Association to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
George W. Bush’s vision of America includes a government that routinely spies on its citizens, throws out due process when dealing with prisoners and twists the truth to fit political agendas.
But Bush did not start America’s descent; he merely exploited weaknesses in the system. He accelerated a decline that may now be irreversible unless Americans step up and take the decisive action to reclaim their nation from the thieves, con-artists and crooks that control our government.
The answer, if one can be found, does not lie in replacing one corrupt politician with another or one out-of-touch political party with another.
The system has failed. Replacement, not repair, may be the answer.
But replacement with what?
I don’t know.
I wish I had an answer.