One thing we’ve learned these past few weeks is that seeing something with your own eyes can make all the difference. Watching what happened to Eric Garner forced us to reconsider the aggression of current policing protocols in ways that no abstract argument could. And seeing what is actually done to pigs and chickens in the factory farms protected by Chris Christie and others removes any doubt about the industrial-level barbarism involved. The same can be said of the leaked photos from Abu Graib, or video footage of Hamas planting rockets in civilian neighborhoods. That’s why there such enormous resistance to letting the sunlight in. That’s why Big Agriculture has made it a crime in many states to record the systematic abuses they inflict. And why the CIA’s Jose Rodriguez decided to destroy the videotaped evidence of the brutal torture he authorized and now defends.
Tomorrow, we may find out what the CIA was saying to itself as it committed war crimes around the world with total impunity. But we won’t get images. The best images you’ll get from GTMO are from Google Earth. But we can still get images of the force-feeding done to other prisoners at the Cuban gulag. We have videos. They have been used in court. And the Pentagon – surprise! – is dead set against releasing them. Why? For the same reason the CIA doesn’t want the torture report to be published. It will “inflame world opinion”. Murtaza Hussein explains:
In a seven page affidavit made public last week and first reported by the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, [U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Sinclair] Harris explained the reasoning for keeping the videos out of public view:
“While the videos at issue…do not in my opinion depict any improper treatment of the detainees, but rather the lawful, humane and appropriate interaction between guards and detainees, persons and entities hostile to the United States and its detention of enemy belligerents at Guantánamo Bay are likely to think otherwise.”
To put Harris’s statement another way, the force-feeding videos are at once humane and appropriate, and yet also so visually appalling that people around the world would be enraged if allowed to view them.
Yes, that’s about right. And Rodriguez both argues that the waterboarding of terror suspects was both humane and utterly in line with civilized norms … but for some inexplicable reason he destroyed the evidence anyway. My view is that it should not matter what the rest of the world thinks, when it comes to the internal workings of American democracy. The American people have a right to know what is being done in their name on highly controversial and contested questions. If the CIA and Pentagon have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. I think they’re familiar with that line of argument, don’t you?
Today, I previewed how president Bush has decided to go all-in on defending torture on his watch. And after all, he’s in agreement with Obama on one core issue: war criminals were “patriots.” American patriotism, for both presidents, is a defense for war crimes. It doesn’t get more sickening than that.
We also covered the zeal with which many left-feminists sought to demonize any skeptics of the UVA rape story; and tried to get a handle on what the actual statistics on campus rape can and cannot tell us. We lamented the demise of the media moguls, happy to lose bucket-loads of money on influential and erudite journals of opinion; and worried about the fate of liberal arts journalism as a whole. Plus: the disruptive market power of kitty litter!
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And on that, slightly desperate note, see you in the morning.
(Photo: People push a car stuck on the A93 Braemar to Glenshee road as snow is forecast for much of the UK on December 8, 2014. The Met Office yellow ‘Be Aware’ warning remains in place across the country, with drivers struggling with snow fall overnight. By Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.)