Friday, December 07, 2007

The Meaning of IS

It all depends on the meaning of “is”
Clinton said with measured reason
And annoyed us with a fizz
Just short of national treason
But now we face more lies
Than truth can possibly uncover
In Dana Perrino’s blinking eyes
Or a news helicopter’s hover

There is an irony in the news recently that Barry Bonds is being charged with perjury for denying that he used performance-enhancing drugs because it is competing with the news that Bush lied about the nuclear danger posed by Iran. Sports are important and I do not mean to diminish the impact of a role model for our youth. One could argue that President Bush has long ago given up the role of being a person to emulate and perhaps nobody expects the truth from him any longer. If Barry Bonds lied, then the sport of baseball is diminished. He is going to trial. If Bush lied, then Democracy is diminished. He is not going to trial. Today, the LA Times and several news organizations are carrying the story of the CIA destruction of video demonstrating their use of methods that the world calls “torture.” Bush has repeated the mantra that the “United States does not torture.” I guess that it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is.

As a simple example, we have charged and convicted perpetrators of waterboarding as torturers at least since the Spanish American War. We convicted Japanese for that offense during war crimes trials for WW II. Not incidentally, we held leaders responsible for the actions of their followers. Does it really depend on what the meaning of “torture” is when we have longstanding precedent and we have isolated ourselves from the civilized world in defining it? Does the CIA destroying evidence constitute vindication in our neocon world? Does it matter that the evidence was requested by a Federal Court? An earlier presidential spokesman, Scott McClellan has recently written a book decrying the fact that he was lied to and made to lie, in turn, to the American people.

The specific reference by McClellan is the treasonous act of outing an undercover agent and the following perjury. McClellan repeated the lie that Bush, Cheney nor anybody else in the White House participated in the process. Recall that Bush said that he would dismiss anybody in his administration involved, including White House members? Bush hardly waited for the jury to reach a verdict before he commuted Scooter Libby's jail sentence. Does it really matter that Bush communicated that he would fire anybody involved? Maybe he crossed his fingers and we failed to notice. Does it matter that Bush’s Brain “turd blossom” Rove is writing a book to revise the history of the rush to war in Iraq? Rove now claims that it was Congress and not the President that rushed to war despite dozens of video clips that demonstrate that both he and the President urged and chided the Congress for not acting fast enough. Does it matter?

We have long criticized the Russians and Chinese who brazenly used propaganda during the Cold War. We laughed at their attempts to cover up failures and blunders in politics and science. We winced at their human rights abuses when they minimized their crimes as essential to maintaining justice. Their lies were transparent to us. It seemed to matter then. We have now outsourced some of our propaganda and are spending millions annually for the Lincoln Group to propagandize Iraq through the press. Does it matter? Don’t the ends justify the means, after all?

If the end was to attack Iran by building up the tempo and drum beat, then it did matter that the intelligence community collectively decided not to cave in to pressure from the White House. Distorted intelligence from an alcoholic “Curve Ball” was used to get us into Iraq and it appears that intelligence providers did not want a repeat that scandal. It does matter. It matters to the thousands who may have been killed or injured and it matters to each of us that at least one of our checks and balances worked for reason instead of rashness. It matters to our Army and to the Marine Corps that have been depleted by repeated deployments. It matters to our friends who may have lost faith in the United States. It matters to our enemies who have seen us as a justifiable target for retaliation. Reports indicate that the Vice President delayed the report for a year, but it matters that the report was made. That is progress from an administration that has been singular in promoting secrecy and hiding truth.

Baseball will survive the Barry Bonds trial. The sport will not be severed from our culture. We need to follow that example and see that justice is served and not severed from our culture.
George Giacoppe
7 December 2007

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