The Great Cave-In - The Torture "Compromise":
How soon after they were shown the implements of torture did McCain, Warner, and Graham cave? What did it take? Was John McCain forced to watch a Rove-created video dated for spring 2008 accusing him of wanting to hand job confessions out of al-Qaeda suicide bomber wannabes? Was John Warner given a demonstration of the strap-ons and dildos that'd be used on his eighty-year old ass? Did they just show Lindsey Graham a laptop with a live satellite feed of the outside of his beloved sister's home, surrounded by snipers? For certainly, if we even begin to think that these three Republican senators were being honest players when they voiced opposition to the President's proposal seeking to find "clarity" in the Geneva Conventions that would allow torture, as well as to allow detainees to be tried on secret evidence, then we have to believe that they were threatened in order to cave so utterly, so completely, so disgustingly, so despairingly.
The fact that anyone thought for two seconds that we were watching honorable men confront the evil wrought by a president from their own party is a pathetic statement on just how debased politics has become in this country. If there can be actual celebratory jubilation over the brief stand taken by the Gutless Trio, then no one's been paying attention. For if John McCain actually gave a rat's ass about torture, then he would not have voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales or Samuel Alito. If Lindsey Graham gave a happy monkey fuck about the rights of detainees, then he wouldn't have authored an amendment limiting their rights of appeal. And Warner, despite his reputation as a moderate in some of his statements, almost always goes along with the herd, so, you know, fuck him, too. A real, genuine confrontation with the White House would have been to open hearings on the treatment of detainees, with subpoenas and possibly arrests. This was just legalistic wrangling over language.
And as for Democrats? Did they not realize that when they face the Republican party now that they are facing the Blob? And if part of the Blob is blown away or cut off from the rest of the Blob, that doesn't mean the Blob part is dead. No, no, see, once you turn your back, that blobby segment is just gonna find a way to ooze back to the main Blob and just fuckin' devour you with its acidic blobularity. The thing is that some of us out here in the audience are screamin' at the Democrats, "Turn around; it's not dead." Too late, just too late. (Was gonna go with the Terminator here, but the Blob is from the 1950s, which the Republicans wish it still was.) Democrats got handed their asses again by once more putting faith in the alleged independence of John McCain, hiding behind his gimpy skirts, thinking that he was gonna take one for the team. One imagines that after the "negotiations" were done and the "compromise" was reached, Bush called McCain up and said, "You've covered your ass now."
In the final analysis, the compromise says that Bush gets to decide what is a "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions, a government prosecutor gets to say what evidence a detainee and/or his attorney can see at trial, and the lights get turned back on at some godforsaken CIA dungeon in a remote area of Uzbekistan. Thank Christ we can finally get back to the goodly work of arresting people without charge, sending them to Syria, and looking away while they're kept in a coffin-sized space and beaten with metal cable.
But, really, and, c'mon, this was all a pretty dance for the cameras and the folks back home because of the inevitable signing statement that'll accompany the bill.
As for the nation at large and how much it actually cares? Well, let's end on an historical note. Here's William B. Shepard speaking in 1816 about Americans' reaction to the mistreatment and massacre of American prisoners at the Dartmoor Prison in England during the War of 1812: "If reflections like these cannot rouse our indignation; if imagination cannot supply the want of feeling, whence shall we procure a drug that will stir the latent power of affection? Have Americans sunk into that torpidity congenial to slaves? Or had ingratitude barred the door to their hearts?"
Shepard, who opposed slavery and the policies of Andrew Jackson, turns it back to thoughts of the imprisoned towards the end of his speech, given at the University of North Carolina. Shepard says, "How, then, can we blame those unfortunate prisoners, robbed of light and air, doomed to hold converse dungeon damps, and tell unto the stones their misfortunes, administered unto by men who live like mushrooms but from corruption, for catching at the brittle reed to save them from destruction? If we do, we know not the sufferings of our captive brethren.– Consider that the idea of wife, of children, and of home, was smothered beneath the chains and manacles of captivity; that hope, arrayed in all its visionary colors, as it rises to give a glimpse of future bliss, is quenched in a moment; that they were thrown into a gloomy, disconsolate cell, where no sound drew them from the misery of thought, but the groans of affliction and the passing watchman's cry of 'all is well.'"
One can be certain that the British thought the prisoners were deserving of their treatment. One can be certain that they used horrible methods to extract information. One can be certain they thought they were justified.