The Normalization of Horror
American Gulags Become Permanent
by Ted Rall
01/12/05 "ICH" A new documentary, "Hitler's Hit Parade," runs 76 minutes without narration. Comprised entirely of archival footage, the film prompts its reviewers to remark upon Hannah Arendt's famous observation about the banality of evil. German troops subjugated Europe and shoved millions of people into ovens; German civilians went to the movies, attended concerts, and gossiped about their neighbors. People lived mundane, normal lives while their government carried out unspeakable monstrosities.
A Justice Department memo from August of 2002 leaked to the Washington Post and published by that newspaper on June 13 constitutes prima facie evidence that the US government adopted a policy of torture in connection with its so-called “war on terrorism” and its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The memo gives the lie to the official claim that responsibility for the use of torture against Iraqi prisoners held by the US at Abu Ghraib prison rests with a few “bad apples” among rank-and-file military guards. The torture of prisoners has been carried out with the knowledge and approval of officials at the highest levels of the Bush administration.
White House officials decided to employ torture with full knowledge that they were violating longstanding and specific prohibitions against such methods under both international and US law.
The memo was written for Alberto Gonzales, the counsel for the president, and prepared by officials in the Justice Department. On Sunday night the Washington Post posted on its web site a draft version dated August 1, 2002 and entitled “Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 USC Sections 2340-2340A.” It is signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee. According to the Post, it was commissioned by the CIA. But the fact that it is addressed to Gonzales links it directly to President George W. Bush.
The defining link in this, of course is Alberto Gonzales. He apparently will be confirmed as Attorney General in the near future (after the coronation).
This is an insult to me, to the world and to all the people who have ever been affected by torture including those in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq. It also may be the final step in going over the line. The last straw. And any other cliche that you can think of.
But mostly, it is evil.