Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Politicians Should Avoid Comparing Themselves To People

With just days to go before the official transfer of sovereignty from the US military junta to the Iraqi kleptocratic interim government, the Bush administration is still reeling from pillar to post from new revelations of mismanagement and sadism in its various foreign misadventures.

Goaded by reports that the supposed "few bad apples" who tortured Iraqi prisoners were not acting independently but rather instead represented the logical conclusion of the Bush administration's abrogation of the Geneva Convention and human rights in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, George and the boys released a partial record of their deliberations on the question of torture:

White House Releases Files on Interrogating Detainees (From NPR)
Papers show US torture debate (from the BBC)

President Bush, it what sounds like a non-denial denial, stated that he did not or will not order the use of torture. He even used his indignant voice, which as the past four years have shown usually means he is trying to be clever and parse his words. And remember that presidents are usually at their most emphatic just before the bucket of shit falls on their heads: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" or "we did not trade arms for hostages." Ann Applebaum's take on the subject is quite interesting:
So torture is legal?

The star of the day once again however was Little Donnie Rumsfeld, the Robert MacNamara of the new century. On one of the memos discussing the possible use of torture, Rumsfeld states that as he is capable of standing up for eight hours at a stretch, why can't detainees?

Hats off to Rumsfeld. Not only is he Secretary of Defense (with the biggest desk in Washington DC: cool trivia nugget there) he also apparently has a second job, soldering the joins on Oreck vaccum cleaners in a Alexandria, VA factory. There he stands for eight hours, soldering away by touch only as he is hooded, while attack dogs nip at his naked ankles. Every 10 minutes Specialist Lindy England pops out to give him the thumbs up.

Rumsfeld wants to be careful opening up this can of worms. Does he really want people taking guidance from politicians on how to behave? On both sides of the Atlantic there are more than enough bad examples from the ranks of public service. Already it seems that guards at Abu Grahib prison took the lead from the late British politician Steven Milligan, who was found dead in his apartment dressed in women's underwear hanging from a lamp fixture with an orange in his mouth.

Being too tough to need a chair in emulation of Rumsfeld is one thing, but do we really want to screw interns, bug our opponents' offices, ram our car off bridges or into motorcyclists, fall down the steps of aircraft, puke on the Japanese Prime Minister, call Princess Diana "David", cozy up to racists, take a kickbacks from industry cronies, fall off segway human transporters, or choke on pretzels just so that we can be like our leaders? Shouldn't such behavior be confined to the more dignified setting of NBC TV's Fear Factor?

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