Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Yes, I missed the anniversary

Updated The anniversary in question, of course, being the fourth for "Mission Accomplished," perhaps the greatest, purest example of hubris and chutzpah of the last several decades.

There were, as there should have been, any number of blog commentaries about the lies, incompetence, and inanities that have been the stuff of US policy in the intervening four years, but on this particular anniversary my thoughts ran in a somewhat different direction. So even though it's a day late, I'm going to express them briefly.

Last Wednesday, Senator Dick Durbin said on the floor of the Senate that at the time of the Congressional vote on the authorization to use military force against Iraq, he knew for a fact that the administration was lying to the public. Fox News carried his quote that
"[t]he information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Durbin said....
As one specific example, Durbin said that the infamous aluminum tubes, which the White House insisted publicly were proof that Saddam was actively developing nuclear weapons, were actually the subject of "active, heated debate" within the administration.

Durbin's remarks were almost entirely ignored by news media. Keith Olbermann covered it (and was the source of the video clip linked above) but beyond that source and, interestingly enough, the story on Fox News and another in the Washington Times, there was almost complete silence. A search on the terms "durbin intelligence" turned up zero links to this story on the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Christian Science Monitor. Searches at Yahoo! News and Google News only turned up the Fox and Washington Times stories and a few that fed off them.

(Note one: I am only counting news media here; I am not including blogs. Note two: Yes, the search terms were valid, as in every case the search did turn up an earlier article relating to global warming being a national security issue.)

So is that what I was thinking about, about the virtual wall dropped around Durbin's bombshell? Not exactly. Rather it was this:
"I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress."
God dammit, why the hell not? Do you have any idea, Senator, of the depth of indecency to which you descended? The utter abyss of immorality? Do you have any sense, any notion, of the pain, the blood, the shattered bodies, the shredded limbs, the loss, the horror, the hunger, the death, the senseless, needless death you wrapped into your silence?

Why the hell couldn't you "walk outside the door" and tell the people, tell the world, that the White House was populated by a cabal of power-hungry liars? You knew, you knew, you knew that the country, your country, was being lied into a war. A war, Senator, not some pet pork barrel project of some bureau in the Executive Branch. A war.

But you kept silent. You kept your mouth shut. Because propriety, because protection of your privileged position, was more important than truth. More important than justice. More important than decency. More important than human lives.

You had a chance, Senator, a chance to do more than cast what you had to know in the circumstances, including the circumstances of your contemptible silence, would be little more than a protest vote. You had a chance to speak the truth, a truth that might have - yes, I say might have rather than would have but that brings no consolation because it still might have - prevented the whole, sorry, disgraceful, inhumane crime that we have with your complicity committed.

Yes, you might have been one man, but sometimes one man, one man fed up with the lies, is all it takes. The fact is, Senator, you had the chance to speak the truth. And you failed.

No, that's not right. You didn't fail. You did worse: You refused. And while I'm aware that you neither know nor care what I think, I will still say that forgiveness for that refusal is, at least for now, beyond my reach.

Updated at the urging of my wife to note that Durbin was not alone in his silence because all the other members of the Intelligence Committee knew that same things he did. That is true and they share the guilt for their silence. But my anger remains primarily aimed at Durbin because he's the one, as I said in comments, that admitted it; he's the one, that is, who was truly aware of what he was doing and what his silence endorsed - and he did it anyway.

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