As we Americans face a shrinking economy with higher energy costs and turn our attention to the coming election season, we must remember how we came to this state of affairs, and those responsible for it. As Bill Moyers reminded us last week, Roger Ailes said the reason we went to invade Iraq was to ensure $20 per barrel oil. Gee... that didn't work out did it? Not exactly liberators, are we? Instead, we are now viewed as a pariah state, a malign influence on the world. How this came to pass is now a cottage industry, spawning endless books and analyses.
One issue stands above the rest: Torture. Here is a timeline from Salon on the history of the Bush Administration's support of torture. And while Gitmo still grabs the headlines, according to George Monbiot, Gitmo is nothing but a distraction from the larger horrors being committed in our names. Recent estimates state that the US has "detained" as many as 80,000 people worldwide at various black sites and on board ships far from the prying eyes of the Red Cross, the UN, Human Rights Watch, and reporters - and there are believed to be as many as 26,000 still in US custody. If Gitmo is any indication, a large number of the detainees are probably innocent, their lives wasted rotting in jail. Is there a better way to recruit a jihadi army?
Is this the America you want to give to your children and grandchildren? A country that secretly holds people indefinitely? A country that uses the prisons of the former Soviet Union to hold people away from the light of day? No matter how real and terrifying the threat of terrorism is, we must come to understand that the darkest, most frightening threat to our country has come from within. The malign reign of King George cannot end too quickly. Upon the election of a new president, we must not bury our heads in the sand and shrink from the responsibility of determining the truth of what happened in secret, and holding those responsible accountable for their actions. Then - and only then - will we be able to move forward and to protect this republic from such dark forces again.