Already we’re hearing the plea, “It’s time to move on. Forget about George W. Bush. Forget about the impeachable crimes committed by his administration against this nation, against humanity. Let’s move on.”
Except for one thing.
Without an accurate accounting of the crimes committed by the Bush administration, nothing will have changed. It will be business as usual, whether we “move on” or not.
While it may be too late for impeachment, we can begin a serious investigation into the crimes the Bush administration has committed against the American people: Lying its way into a war, for example, spying on anyone opposed to its plans, kidnapping and torturing its enemies. The list goes onand on.
No need to belabor the point of how many crimes, only to emphasize the fact that the best way to “move on” from the disaster of George W. Bush is to hold him and his associates accountable for their crimes, which are anything but misdemeanor.
Until then, how can we possibly “move on”?
I don’t want anyone who voted for or winked at torture as a means for securing democracy as a leader. I don’t want them walking free.
I don’t want someone who thinks it’s OK to read my email and listen to my phone calls to make policy decisions regarding my rights as a citizen of the U.S. That person should be removed from office.
In fact, such individuals (picture the sneering Dick Cheney, for example) should face the penalties for subverting the laws that protect me, for subjecting human beings to the inhumanity of war and torture, for plundering the national treasury. They should go to prison.
Until then, there’s no moving on.
Meanwhile, anyone who even obliquely approves or wonders at the inhumanity of torture ought to try it for themselves.
For instance, a legislator or candidate for office, who wonders whether waterboarding is fun or inhumane, ought to be subjected to the practice, just so they can be sure.
Is waterboarding torture? Try it out; you decide. I read somewhere that the CIA’s best agents were given a sample of their own medicine, just so they could see what it’s like.
The agency’s toughest reportedly withstood the treatment for 13-18 seconds before they were forced to say, “Uncle.”
Is that torture? Is there really any doubt? Can’t find the tapes that would demonstrate whether waterboarding is torture? Just ask the CIA agents who’ve tried it. They’ll tell you: “It works.”
Sure it works, if you want someone to lie through his teeth, desperate for a breath of air. Not only is torture inhumane, it doesn’t work.
But in an Orwellian world where the new head of the Justice Department can’t be sure whether waterboarding is a sport or a crime, truth is a lie and lies are truth.
Our policies and leadership need a good scrubbing, the kind you get after an old-fashioned trip to the woodshed, where birch meets skin and you begin to look at the world differently. When it’s over, you feel freshened, cleansed.
After we’ve properly indicted and convicted those responsible for (what are also impeachable) crimes, all we ask for are leaders with a sense of humanity, who respect the dignity of other human beings.
It’s simple. Treat your enemies with respect. Love your neighbor and your enemy.
We need leaders with compassion, who know that peace is better than war, and love is better than hate.
We need leaders who can speak peaceably with their enemies, who refuse to use violence or succumb to its intolerable devastations. We need leaders who demand something as simple as clean drinking water for our prisons.
I’ll be voting for candidates who treasure the world and the people in it, who see others as themselves and wouldn’t think of dehumanizing and degrading them.
The worst part of the disaster that has befallen the United States since George W. Bush took over is the meanness of spirit that has manifested itself in our foreign policies, in our attitudes toward the poor, prisoners, people of color, and people without health care.
It’s a meanness that could be hard to cure, if we don’t start now. Perhaps then we can move on.
STACEY WARDE is editor of The Rogue Voice and a 2006 recipient of the In Character award for best editorial and opinion on human virtue.