Thursday, May 14, 2009

"You Will Be Visited by Three US Attorneys Tonight..."

By Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari

No doubt it was common sport over the last eight years, one not unakin to shooting the proverbial fish in the proverbial barrel with the proverbial quail-hunting shotgun, to compare Dick Cheney to Ebenezer Scrooge. The first Scrooge we saw, after all, was the quintessential Republican, snarling at charity workers hitting him up for donations and asking if we still can't put the poor in workhouses.

But in light of recent events, Dick Cheney has in a way resembled another character from Dickens' classic Christmas tale: Jacob Marley. Like Marley, Scrooge's old business partner, Cheney has been shambling out into the warm cloisters of Fox's and CBS's sound stages, chains used at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram clanking loudly and ludely, to haunt the GOP, which would suffice nicely in our extended metaphor as our collective, cantankerous misanthrope Scrooge.

In this recasting of A Christmas Carol, Cheney/Marley comes back when everyone least expected it, with the Republican party clutching their bedsheets and KKK outfits up to their triple chins and worrying of what Cheney will remind them, and us, next. Like all ghosts, Cheney's appearance came unexpectedly since he was hardly less visible and verbose than Osama bin Laden. For eight years, after all, Cheney was more of a heavily-rumored, semi-documented haunting in the West Wing, one who no doubt pulled Abe Lincoln out of the Abe Lincoln bedroom by his ear and snarling about how he'd betrayed the party he'd helped found.

Therefore, it's a matter of truly shitty timing for President Obama to be signaling a simultaneous about-face in both his advocacy to release photographs of detainee torture and abuse and keeping Guantanamo Bay prisoners detained indefinitely without charge. These are decisions that we could've expected coming from the Cheney administration. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham suspended his rug safaris long enough to ask aloud, "This is a difficult question. How do you hold someone in prison without a trial indefinitely?"

The answer? With impunity for seven years and counting, in some cases.

Perception in politics being everything, it doesn't matter how many times the Obama administration and its own army of flaks and spin doctors fan out and say, "Oh, no, this has nothing to do with the former Vice President's embrace of torture as a principle means of safeguarding national security! This is a strictly autonomous administration." The timing alone makes this double reversal on Mr. Obama's part flunk the smell test with flying colors.

And it's the White House's possible skewed perception of Cheney's impact on current policymaking that we have to seriously consider. Cheney is a man who now enjoys a 30% approval rating and, as stated, Republicans cringe every time he gets wheeled out on his customary Hannibal Lecter dolley to give an interview. The majority of Americans, depending on which poll you listen to, want justice for these Gitmo detainees and are sickened by our use of torture. So what other view is the Obama administration kowtowing to now?

Cheney stands alone, essentially within the GOP (im)proper in his loud proclamations that torture is the way to go and any repudiation of it will result in another 9/11. Moderate Republicans, especially, those darling little Scrooges-in-transition, are just now waking up and wondering what went wrong like the murderous automatons at the end of I, Robot. Yet one is still plugged into the system and still wreaking mayhem.

The glaring inconsistency in my running metaphor of Cheney acting like Jacob Marley is this: Scrooge's old partner in crime made an untimely appearance to express remorse for their indiscretions and to advise Scrooge to similarly repent before it is too late. Dick Cheney, even when at last he becomes a ghost, will be as unrepentant of OKing torture as he is in the meat world.


At May 14, 2009 at 7:27 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

I do not understand Obama's about-face on the torture photos. Who is he protecting, and why?

I know Americans care mostly about only their pocketbooks, but this free pass for and now complicit posture towards the perpetrators of these actions is as unconscionable as it is curious.

If we do not get on the right track in regards to our treatment of our "detainees", the coin of America as a brand of humanity and dignity will have been frittered away. No spin doctor or Madison Ave. wunderkinde will be able to get it out of hock; it will be gone.

At May 14, 2009 at 10:40 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I have to agree with President Obama's decision.

The first photos at Abu Ghraib served to expose the rampant abuse and human rights violations being committed by the Bush administration. They fundamentally changed the public's perception of the war.

What exactly would releasing an additional batch of prisoner abuse photos accomplish?

Obama is currently meeting with Netanyahu, and there will most certainly be an "Obama Plan" to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issued in the coming months. President Obama probably has one of the best shots in recent history at making progress in the Middle East peace process.

We've seen the pictures. We know what happened. Releasing a second redundant batch of photos would only serve to inflame the situation and jeopardize a golden chance to achieve peace.

At May 14, 2009 at 10:46 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

I don't agree< Mark. While I don't pretend to know much less understand the president's decision to block the release of these photographs, I can't believe that the DOJ would have recommended releasing them for reasons as frivolous as you'd described.

We need to be reminded of what was done in our good name, with our tax dollars. With the subprime crisis resulting in millions of foreclosures, unemployment skyrocketing toward double digits and now the emphasis being placed on Afghanistan and Pakistan, I don't see how reminding us of these abuses would hurt. The Muslim world, having longer memories for these things, I don't think would be further inflamed by seeing these new photographs.

We Americans, OTOH, tend to have shorter memories, skewed priorities and need a goosing once in a while.

At May 14, 2009 at 11:02 PM, Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

The pics are being suppressed to protect Cheney's torturer/ assassin-in-chief, whom Obama just promoted to Commanding General of the AfPak Wars. Now THAT will be a big boost for Al Qaeda recruiting, as McChrystal's reign of terror was in Iraq. Talk about putting our troops at risk!

But, hey, they volunteered, right?

Anyway, gotta finesse those pesky Senate confirmation hearing for the Lt.General.


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