Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday's The Hump Day, Right?

Work sucks, and I'm very, incredibly, mind-numbingly tired. So here's Chris Hayes:

This statement sums up how I feel about the whole thing: "That's what's so vicious about the entire logic that has guided this from the beginning; it's that if there are people who act unlawfully, the law no longer applies. Which is on its face absurd, right? I mean, the whole point of the law is to create a frame work to deal with people who violate it."

And I agree with him when he says, "I will say that I found it incredibly offensive that he referred to it as a symbol. The fact of the matter is there are actual people who were actually kidnapped and actually held and actually tortured away from their actual family members. So there is nothing symbolic about what has happened to the people in Guantanamo."

But at the same time, Dick Cheney is about half right as well; Guantanamo Bay is not just a symbol. The reason the Left is up in arms is not just because Guantanamo is symbolic of the Bush disregard for rule of law - unless it is their law - and lack of respect for civil liberties. But the fact of the matter is that while the reason for the outrage is the fact that there are actual people who have actually been tortured, with the benefit of this process actually discrediting the United States in the global community, it is also symbolic of a power structure gone horribly awry. Guantanamo also represents a greater injustice, or rather a series of greater injustices. There is the injustice of actually torturing people; and then there is the injustice paid to those who have actually been affected by terrorist acts allegedly perpetrated by the detainees at Gitmo. After all, because the military engaged in tactics that were tantamount to torture, Susan Crawford - the woman who decides who stands trial at Gitmo - has dropped charges against Muhammed al-Qahtani, the alleged 20th 9/11 hijacker. And although I am with Chris Hayes completely in that it is incredibly offensive and unacceptable for anyone to be tortured in the name of America's safety, it is almost more offensive for actual justice to be stymied because of that torture. Gitmo is a symbol as well as a terrible institution. It is the symbol of much of what went wrong in the Bush administration. It is bad enough to decide that the end justifies the means when those means include betraying some of the country's core values; it is just that much worse when the ends one has betrayed those values for turn out to be nothing more than an ideological mirage. Gitmo is just one example of the intersection of that insult to injury; it is also one of the most glaring.

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