Torture and the Permanent Republican Majority:
There's many things that become apparent reading even a chunk of the Senate Armed Services Committee report on how we became an America that figures out exactly how much slapping constitutes a violation of the law. There's been much reported already, like how the planning for "enhanced interrogation" (a term that ought to be tossed onto the historical scrapheap with "compassionate conservative" and Joe Lieberman) began in December 2001, about how, like every thug cop that's ever fucked-up a bust or every electrode-bearing South American or Eastern European dictator that wanted to crush that rebellion, they tried to torture information that just didn't exist out of detainees - on the mythical Iraq/al-Qaeda connection, about just how ultimately worthless the whole thing was. As we delve deeper and deeper in it, surely we will tease more mundane awfulness out of the details.

But what doesn't come through immediately is the answer to a simple question: why? Why did the Bush administration commit and allow (and encourage, if not force others to commit) what are, seemingly without a doubt, treaty-busting crimes? Because, see, you read something like footnote 10 on page 2 and you come across this line: "According to Gonzales, the 'positive' consequences of setting aside the Third Geneva Convention include 'preserving flexibility' and 'substantially reduc[ing] the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act,'" and you realize that, whatever the motivation of the people involved, they didn't care. And they didn't care for a simple reason to answer that simple question: the Bush administration thought it was the beginning of an ascendant Republican reign and that they'd never be investigated.

Look back at when all this shit went down. Karl Rove and others were talking about a permanent Republican majority. So, rather than go whole hog with blow torches and pliers, the Office of Legal Counsel pushed methods as far as they could go. In other words, as long as they could say, at the end of the day, that there was a line they would not cross, a Republican Congress wouldn't do jackshit to stop them. As John "I Teach Students" Yoo wrote in his March 14, 2003 memo, criminal laws would not apply to certain interrogations and the Justice Department could not therefore prosecute the interrogators. Again, you only say that if you think you're going to control the Justice Department for time immemorial.

The name "Karl Rove" doesn't appear in the report. But his greasy fingerprints are all over this. This was war as a political operation. Taken as a whole, all that happened here is one big cover-up, like an old porn star after ten plastic surgeries. In other words, in the real world, what we call all the memos, all the discussions of how far torture could go, is another simple word: "alibi."