Friday, January 4, 2008

The NYT's Editorial "Looking for America" and My Response

The New York Times ran the following editorial on 1/31/07. They accurately enumerate a number of the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the Bush White House in appropriately passionate language. At the end they offer as a solution not impeachment but the hope that a new president in 2009 will somehow right these wrongs. Their criticism of Bush and Cheney is welcome, albeit it's very late, rather like allowing a mass murderer to do his dirty work for years and then finally slamming him for it. Indeed, it isn't "rather like," it is.

In response to the editorial and in particular their electoral solution, I submitted a comment that, much to my surprise, they not only ran but highlighted in their editorial's online edition in a colored side bar along with selecting my comment as one of the Editor's Selections.

As Reading Between the Lines notes (their reposting of my comment is missing the last paragraph, by the way), what's extraordinary in this instance is not that the Times was denouncing the Bush White House but that they would feature my comment given that I slam the Times for their collusion in the White House's crimes. Perhaps a guilty conscience?

Who knows? I'm glad at least that they gave my argument some prominence because the points I was making are sorely, grievously lacking from the media. Had the Times, for instance, looked closely at the smoke and mirrors "evidence" of WMD and had they brought up the issue of the UN Charter and international law (which make crystal clear that attacking a country that has not attacked you and does not threaten you is the highest war crime of all), then the more than a million Iraqis who have died because of our invasion, and the thousands of Americans who've needlessly died, would have been avoided.

It is true that the Times, after it was too late, made a self-criticism of their credulous coverage of the Iraq war buildup, but then, they are repeating the same pattern currently viz a viz the justifications being offered by the Bush White House for a war on Iran. Will we see them make another self-criticism after a disastrous attack on Iran? Or will they criticize themselves - too late - for not calling for impeachment when the Bush White House has done nearly everything imaginable to merit impeachment? Only time will tell. (Or perhaps: only the Times will tell.)

My comment follows their editorial. Take a look. If you look over the 416 comments submitted to their editorial online you'll see that a very hefty proportion of them also ask the obvious question of the NYT: why didn't you and why aren't you calling for impeachment? In their print edition today (1/3/08) the Times ran several letters to the editor about their editorial. None of the letters that they selected to print, however, call for impeachment.

December 31, 2007


Looking at America

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.

End of NYT editorial

My comment:

Bush and Cheney would not have been able to carry out their crimes against humanity without the mass media and Congress permitting them to do so. When the Times had the information that the White House was spying on us all it sat on the information for a year before publishing it. When Bush and Cheney stole the 2000 and 2004 elections the Times didn't mention that the exit polls showed that the elections were fraudulent. Indeed, the Times coverage didn't even bring up the subject of exit polls in its coverage.

While I am pleased that you are editorializing - in essence - against the high crimes and misdemeanors of this criminal gang, why aren't you calling for their impeachment? If you were mute when the last two elections were stolen, why should we have any confidence that EVEN IF a Democrat does get the most votes in '08 that the election won't be stolen once again and the Times won't be mute once again?

None of the major candidates for president have called for the repeal of the Military Commissions Act or the Warner Act. None of them have committed to pulling the troops out of Iraq by even the end of their first hypothetical term. Clinton, Obama and Edwards have all endorsed a military attack on Iran. None of them have called for impeaching Bush and Cheney. Nancy Pelosi, we now know, knew for years about the spying and the torture and said nothing.

In times such as these, the American people must speak up and make their sentiments known, acting independently as THE PEOPLE. Let us not go down in history as infamously standing silent in the face of grave crimes the way the "Good Germans" allowed the Nazis to carry out their atrocities.

Wear orange - a ribbon, wristband, bandana, and so on - daily. Its wearing is a sign of solidarity with those our government imprisons and tortures. Its wearing means that you stand against torture and tyranny. The time for private grumbling is over. The time for speaking out and acting is here. (

— Dr. Dennis Loo, Los Angeles

1 comment:

Dennis Loo said...

[I'm posting this comment sent to me via email from Red Flag Jon who asked me to do so - DL]

Well said, Dennis! We need to invent a strategy that can win, and from that, backtrack to where we now are. The winning strategy is uniting opposition to
the many atrocities, from Iraq, to the unspeakable tortures, to the Cuban 5, to Katrina abandonment, to 2 million in US prisons, to yawning as genocide
occurs, to environmental devastation: The new slogan must be "End the Empire!"

We need to engage the people in police departments, National Guard, and military with the lessons of Nuremberg, the personal responsibility to refuse orders that lead to war crimes and other atrocities. We are their brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins. They must know that if the orders come
to conduct mass arrests or commit crimes on the orders of tyrants, they must instead side with us against the tyrants, as did most of the military in the standoff with Marcos in the 1986 People's Power victory in the Philippines.

But to achieve this, we must engage in mass dialogue ASAP.

Red Flag Jon