Everyone's focused on one thing this week, and one thing only: torture. (Sorry if you had a story to get out this week, though; keep trying!) It's a veritable firestorm of coverage: The Huffington Post has exploded with diatribes, the National Review is up in arms, Google is completely flooded. To acknowledge this, we're dedicating this week's TR to torture, so you can have the real 411. See? We got your back.
Waterboarding: Not a Fun Metaphor
Call it semantic retribution for teabagging puns. Fox is all over this, according to Media Matters, and are riding new buzzwords like "banana republic" and "waterboard me!" into the ground. Shep Smith got a little, erm, heated when he yelled, "WE DO NOT F*CKING TORTURE!" on live TV. We're betting Hannity won't go through with his request to be waterboarded, but, hey, what do we know? Olbermann IS upping the ante.
Maybe this seems extreme, but Republicans and Democratics are throwing down very seriously about torture, and it's not going away. Expect to keep hearing from anyone and everyone who knows anything about it.
War of Semantics and 24 References
All this (much-needed) discussion on torture is accompanied by a debate over WORDS -- what they mean, what they should mean, what they don't. It's an English major's wet dream.
Roger Cohen wrote in the NY Times: "The U.S. has emerged from eight years of dyslexia. It has now revealed how dangerously words were manipulated and is learning again to speak a language the world can understand... The power of language to reconcile is as great as its power to kill." Makes us shiver!
So does this eloquent response: "Already, I can hear the coyotes howling--right-wingers yelping for validation and justification of their sacred cow post 9/11 policies; left-wingers howling for justice and accountability and unanswerable answers to questions such as Does torture work? and Should we care? and Is it a sign of strength or of weakness? and Why are we even DISCUSSING it?"
A picture is worth more, however. When the Defense Department releases the photos, expect new waves of outrage.
Before that happens, though? Be satisfied with Jack Bauer. Has the discussion about torture been deficient for so long that the only way we feel comfy talking about it is in the context of Jack Bauer's awesome-ness? (Guess it makes sense, though. Sun Tzu once wrote, "If your enemy is weaker, conquer him. If he is stronger, join him. If he is Jack Bauer, you're f*cking dead.")
Cheney, Cheney, Cheney
It's Cheney Time! Emerging from the hidden, dark, slimy places of his natural milieu, Dick is seizing the limelight as Bush keeps his head down, moving into the yawning power vaccuum and becoming the new spokesman for the Repug party. But we have to say: no surprise about Cheney criticizing Obama (we mean, c'mon)
but what's up with this new-found full-disclosure instinct?
From the NY Times:
"...[S]ome conservatives, feeling beleaguered these days, are grateful that Mr. Cheney is speaking out. John R. Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a close ally of his, said... Mr. Cheney might be feeling liberated. 'It's about time he had a chance to get his voice back,' Mr. Bolton said. 'There's no cone of silence now.'"
Eep! Even his daughter is speaking out -- perhaps in celebration of Take Your Kid to Work Day, perhaps not. Then again, EVERYONE is speaking out this week -- McCain, Pelosi, Gates, Reid... it's too much for us to detail here. But let's just say that the media will be giving anyone with an opinion room to speak.
Truth Commission, For Real
Obama hasn't committed to an investigation, but is leaning towards "no." Is that the right response? Or is this bad message control?
The Queenie thinks an investigation is the right way to go, maybe by the International Court of Justice, and lots of people are pressuring Eric Holder with the same message. Though we can't let this turn into a partisan witch hunt, how we deal with torture at this moment in our history will have far-reaching implications for what American democracy is and will be about in the years to come -- our respect for the rule of law, our tolerance for abuse of power, our reverence for civil liberties, our honesty as a people, and our very ability to continue to serve as a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world. Torture isn't something we can ignore.
From the Washington Post:
"We will never know what detainees might have disclosed if interrogators had persisted with more humane techniques. We can't measure precisely the damage inflicted on the United States and its soldiers by the fallout from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. But a presidential commission could produce the fullest, least-heated account possible."
And with that...
Guess we've all learned a little something this week. Although, if you're still looking for a little more song and dance, well, here you go. It's Sesame Street for the modern world.
Have a wonderful (and warm!) weekend!