Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A Bush in a Barrel, Going Over Niagara

Drudge is headlining right now for shock value the text of Al Gore's latest speech, saying Bush is a scumbag and Rush Limbaugh an even bigger one, but the speech actually bears close reading, especially this passage where Gore grapples with the meaning of Abu Ghraib:


There is good and evil in every person. And what makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our natural distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have led us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations more than the people of any other nation.

Our founders were insightful students of human nature. They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only "better angels" in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation -- especially the temptation to abuse power over others.

Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens.

Listen then to the balance of internal impulses described by specialist Charles Graner when confronted by one of his colleagues, Specialist Joseph M. Darby, who later became a courageous whistleblower [Darby was the first soldier at Abu Ghraib who alerted his superiors about the abuse]. When Darby asked [Graner] to explain his actions documented in the photos, Graner replied: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the Corrections Officer says, 'I love to make a grown man piss on himself.' "

What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances....

Private Lynndie England [charged by the military in the Abu Ghraib scandal] did not make the decision that the United States would not observe the Geneva Convention. Specialist Charles Graner [also charged] was not the one who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag of dark rooms with naked prisoners to be "stressed" and even -- we must use the word -- tortured to force them to say things that legal procedures might not induce them to say.

These policies were designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House. Indeed, the President's own legal counsel advised him specifically on the subject. His secretary of defense and his assistants pushed these cruel departures from historic American standards over the objections of the uniformed military, just as the Judge Advocates General within the Defense Department were so upset and opposed that they took the unprecedented step of seeking help from a private lawyer in this city who specializes in human rights and said to him, "There is a calculated effort to create an atmosphere of legal ambiguity where the mistreatment of prisoners is concerned." ...

The president episodically poses as a healer and "uniter." If the president really has any desire to play that role, then I call upon him to condemn Rush Limbaugh -- perhaps his strongest political supporter -- who said that the torture in Abu Ghraib was a "brilliant maneuver" and that the photos were "good old American pornography," and that the actions portrayed were simply those of "people having a good time and needing to blow off steam."


Gore's summation on this current White House bunch: "the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney Administration." The man knows a hawk from a handsaw!

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