Saturday, January 08, 2005

I got your torture memo right here

And don't forget the most salient Neocon talking point of them all:

"It's not torture if Jack Bauer did it on 24."

Alberto Fucking Gonzales. You could have swung a cat and hit someone more qualified for the office of Attorney General than John Ashcroft, but somehow the Bush Administration managed to go the extra mile to find someone even worse than "Mr. I Was Too Busy Gearing Up My War On Pornography To Worry About Terrorism". People in the left side of the blogosphere are making a lot of hay out of Gonzales' either unbelievably naive or unbelievably stupid legal justifications of torture on behalf of the Happy Junta and the nausea-inducing attempts by the righties to excuse such behavior. In particular check out World O'Crap's outraged recap of the folks at The Corner, wherein a noble crew of neocon bloggers attempt to rationalize jamming lit cigarettes into the ears of Iraqi detainees by musing as to what end of the cigarette actually went into the ear canal.

Jack Bauer would be proud of these guys.

My beef with Gonzales predates the torture scandal, however, as he was the toadie who engineered Bush's refusal to release the papers of Ronald Reagan in compliance with the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (which stated that such material could only be withheld from the public for a maximum of twelve years). The Act, intended as an antidote of Nixon's unprecedented level of secrecy in government, was always a thorn in the side of the Republican Party.

Reagan's Administration attempted to undercut it with Executive Order 12667, which gave leeway for secrecy under the catch-all banner of "Executive Privilege", but Dubya really upped the ante with E.O. 13233 (drafted by Gonzales), which not only allowed for the government to reject practically every request made for Presidential records - save for those made via certain rarely-granted court orders - but allowed a sitting President to prevent any former President's papers from becoming available to the public. Issued on November 1st, 2001, E.O. 13233 capitalized on 9/11 hysteria to deny Americans their fundamental right to a transparent government - a move decried by librarians, archivists, and a few high-profile academics but one that was mostly ignored by the general public, who have been brainwashed by fifty years of pop culture telling us we can't handle the truth into thinking that "national security" is a legimitate reason for our elected representatives to do whatever the hell they want.

Never mind that the term is a fiction, a Cold War concept grounded in nothing but a newfound zeal for secrecy and decision-making without public consequences. At the time scholars and scientists were alarmed at the new phrase and its potentially chilling implications for the free exchange of knowledge and the scientific progress and prosperity that ensued from an open society. Even Vannevar Bush, one of the pioneers of American technology in the 1940's and 1950's and no bleeding-heart liberal, expressed a growing dismay over this "national security" apparatus and its ever-tightening grip over the U.S. Government - especially the Executive Branch, which these day has transformed this bullshit concept into its very raison d'etre. Whereas even during the Cold War the onus was on the feds to explain why something had been "classified," now secrecy is the default setting for information about the government we elect and pay for.

Alberto Fucking Gonzales. Pro-torture, pro-governmental inaccountability - what's not to like? Way to filibuster his nomination, Dems in the Senate... not! To be fair, an attempted filibuster would likely result in the Republicans changing the rules of the Senate to disallow filibustering entirely, but if ever there was a guy to call the Repubs' bluff on, it's this stooge. Oh, well. Maybe Alberto will give the porn industry a break, if nothing else...

Where's Jack Bauer when you really need him?

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