When the torture practices at Abu Ghraib were revealed, I went on record welcoming the torture debate, even such as it was, going on in the country. From November, 2005:
Ever since Abu Ghraib hit the news and more frequently now that Bigtime Dick is running around D.C. trying to win converts to his torture policy, I’ve seen blogs on the left ask, “How horrible is it that we have to have this discussion in America?” I understand the point but I don’t agree. I’m grateful to Team BushCo’s obsession to make toture an official part of U.S. foreign policy and codify its use. Finally, if we’re able to rise above the din of the RW Noise Machine and if we can rouse ourselves from whatever is on televsion, we’re going to have a debate that is long overdue.
Americans have always been big fans of torture. There’s no way that lynchings, for example, would have gone on as long as they did if we weren’t. There’s no way that the official Senate apology for its refusal to take action against it would have had to be a clownish and confusing voice vote if we didn’t still support torture. Add to that our support for the Death Penalty, which elicits some of the same arguments we hear from pro-torture writers. And don’t forget to add to the pile the barrage of popular televsion shows that feature torture; Alias and 24 are two absolutely brutal and popular shows that spring to mind. Torture is Us.
But, while we’ve always been on the side of torture, we’ve never been quite so openly on the side of torture. We’ve always been able to pretend at least that we don’t support it as a national policy. The Native American Genocide is considered ancient history and a product of the "Wild West" when all bets were off. It’s frequently and, God help us, easily denied. When the Senate was refusing to address lynching and so tacitly endorsing it, we were able to compartmentalize the brutality. That was a southern thing, we said - even though it wasn’t exculsively anything of the kind - and the rest of the country didn’t support it. But the time that we’re able to hide our barbarism behind regional culture clashes is over and it required this kind of event, this modern war in which the United States officically sanctions torture as a detainment policy, for it to end.
Now the debate seems to be over. Barring a filibuster of the Great Torture Compromise, which, like Digby, I think is simply not going to happen, state-sanctioned torture will become the official policy of the United States of America. When we vote, we will be voting in support of torture. When we recite the pledge, we will be pledging our allegiance to waterboarding and other, undisclosed toture techniques. When we pay our taxes, we will be paying for torture. When our children, God, our poor children, write essays in praise of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, they will be writing in praise of torture. That's what these cowards in power have done to us all.
I don't know. Maybe they're doing us a favor; at least now we don't have to pretend anymore.