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Squaring the Circle; The Senate Torture Report


September 11, 2001 marked the end of The American Century.


The embrace of torture by the administration of George W. Bush marks the beginning of what follows the American Century. It doesn't have a name yet.


The embrace of torture as a policy of the United States government did two things.Photo: www.aclu.org


First, it marked the end of American exceptionalism. It did this because it reversed a policy and a tradition that was started by George Washington himself. Simply put, the policy of George Washington was; No Torture.


The Washington policy placed the United States on a different level from any other government in the world. It provided a moral high ground from which to operate. It provided a fail safe way to judge other governments because, by failing to emulate the American standard, other governments compromised their integrity, credibility, and legitimacy.


This policy was maintained by the United States for over two hundred and twenty-five years.  It was upheld by both Republican and Democratic administrations. It was steadfastly adhered to through some pretty rough stuff: Civil War, two World Wars, and a Cold War.


The second thing the Junior Bush Pro Torture policy did was to make the United States just another country. The moral high ground was abandoned without a fight. And we lost something important. Torture puts the United States in some pretty ugly company; it finds itself in the same category as some of the most reprehensible and despicable regimes in history: Stalinist Russia and the Cold War Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, the China of Mao and the China of Chaing, and a few dozen tin-horn dictatorships around the world that have also disgraced the annals of history.


They tortured. We torture.


Writing this, realizing this, thinking of this fills me with despair. How can such a thing happen? What happened to the ideals that animated George Washington and ten generations of Americans after him? How could any American government be so short sighted, so foolish?




Now, we find ourselves faced with yet another despicable fact. An American President, elected on a platform of "Change You Can Believe In,” making common cause with the author of our humiliation, Junior Bush himself.


Barack Obama, by resisting the will of the Senate to publish its report on torture, further damages our country. He says the foreign policy of the United States is "fragile."


I don't believe this. I don't accept this.


This government is afraid of the fallout the Torture Report will create. This government is afraid of the reaction both here and abroad. This is largely a wasted fear, at least domestically because a large portion of the population in the United States will be as apathetic to this report as they are to almost everything else that happens in Washington. This government says the report will give our enemies reasons to hate us as if they need a few more reasons.


If the Senate report on torture is not published now, right now, it will not see the light of day for years to come because the incoming Republican majority has no desire to see it published. A large percentage of its members are the same people who agreed, tacitly or explicitly, to torture in the first place.


A sense of urgency seems to be warranted.


We can not begin to put this in our past until we allow it into our present. By not publishing the Torture Report, we continue to live a twilight world full of half-truth. filled with convenient little lies, nods, and winks by the secretive and the powerful.


We can do better than that. But we won't until we, all of us, demand better.


I wonder when we'll begin?


Truth has a way of finding its way to the light.


Doesn’t it?


The Senate Torture Report will find its way to publication.


Won’t it? 



Michael Settle is a retired investment adviser and writer. He lives in Paris.


Contact Michael Settle at michaelsettle@gmail.com

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Photo: www.aclu.org